Democrats hoping to flip House not just trash-talking Trump

  • FILE - In this May 20, 2013, file photo, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., speaks at a rally in Olympia, Wash. Heck is helping lead the Democrats' effort to pick up the 23 seats needed to regain control of the House in the 2018 midterm election. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte, File) Rachel La Corte

  • In this Jan. 12, 2017, file photo, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Clark is helping lead the Democrats’ effort to pick up the 23 seats needed to regain control of the House in the 2018 midterm election. AP Photo

Associated Press
Published: 6/24/2018 11:20:54 PM

BOSTON — Democrats hoping to flip enough seats to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives say they aren’t putting all their eggs in the anti-Trump basket.

Those candidates include Lauren Underwood, a 31-year-old registered nurse from Illinois and part of the Democrats’ master plan to regain control of the House.

While Underwood is no fan of President Donald Trump, she said her No. 1 concern — and the top concern of the voters she hopes to will send her to Washington — is access to health care.

Attacking the Republican president hard just isn’t necessarily a winning play in Illinois’ 14th congressional district, said Underwood, who served as an adviser to the Department of Health and Human Services under Democratic President Barack Obama.

“I don’t talk about him that much. He has a higher approval rating than my congressman does, so we talk about our congressman,” said Underwood, who’s hoping to oust incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren in a district that narrowly backed Trump two years ago.

Other Democrats aiming to flip House seats say they’re also trying to zero in on policy more than the president.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has its hopes pinned on 50-plus candidates looking to upend enough seats — 23 — to wrest control of the chamber from the GOP for the first time in eight years.

Republicans have their own plan to retain control, but Democrats are banking they have more than just both momentum and history on their side.

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck is helping lead the effort to flip the House. The Washington Democrat said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee can assist candidates with a range of tasks — from tapping into a national donor base to aiding with the basic mechanics of building a campaign.

But he warned that trash-talking Trump will get a candidate only so far.

“What candidates ought to be doing is talking about that crowded freeway that they need to get additional funds to widen or additional funds to provide mass transit for, or that lake that is becoming polluted and they need the EPA to step up,” Heck said.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is also on the “Red to Blue” list.

Mucarsel-Powell, who came from Ecuador as an immigrant with her mother, said Florida’s 26th Congressional District — the state’s southernmost district — is one of the most vulnerable for Republicans in the country. She pointed to a 16-point win by Hillary Clinton there in 2016. The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

While Mucarsel-Powell doesn’t shy away from talking about Trump, she says she’s more focused on the struggles of local residents.

“They don’t have access to health care. They don’t have good quality education,” she said, adding that tens of thousands depend on the Obama 2010 health care law that Republicans have worked to undo.


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