Political News

First on CNN: Democrats target GOP House members who haven't held town halls

Posted August 9

Democrats are set to launch a month-long effort to penalize vulnerable House Republicans for not holding town hall meetings over their August recess.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is using Google Search ads to direct people who look up their lawmaker or seek information on town halls or health care to microsites that feature clocks showing how long it's been since their member of Congress held a town hall and calls to action. The ads started Tuesday and will run through the August congressional recess until September 5.

The ads target 25 GOP lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

It's an opening salvo in an effort to portray the GOP as hiding from voters -- a message that allows Democratic challengers to go after House members even in right-leaning districts without attacking them directly on politics.

Across the map, Democratic candidates are using tactics designed to play up GOP incumbents' absence.

In Washington, Democrat Kim Schrier's video launching her campaign against Rep. Dave Reichert was themed around an empty chair. Democrat Dean Phillips in Minnesota, running against Rep. Erik Paulsen, is showing up to farmers' markets and community events on a 1960 International Harvester milk truck to harken back to a more collegial time and push the theme that he's showing up and talking to voters while Paulsen isn't.

In places like Fullerton, California, candidates are showing up at "empty chair" town halls hosted by Indivisible and other progressive organizations. At one last week, Republican Rep. Ed Royce did not attend, so Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez came from her neighboring district to speak in his place while five Democrats running against Royce greeted hundreds of attendees.

"If House Republicans are heartless enough to take away health care from their constituents but too scared to face them at public town halls, they don't deserve to be in Congress," DCCC spokesman Tyler Law said. "Our latest digital ad campaign exposes Washington Republicans while they're home on recess and empowers people to hold their representatives accountable."

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