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Not So Young Guns

The House GOP’s new establishment.

Dec 5, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 12 • By FRED BARNES
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In the 2012 cycle, the NRCC has already run television spots in 18 Democratic seats and made robo-calls in dozens more. So far, 6 Democrats have announced their retirement.

McCarthy, and now the NRCC, judge candidates by specific criteria. McCarthy recently took House Republicans to see the movie Moneyball, the story of a major league baseball general manager who felt obscure metrics often told more about a player than scouting reports.

Thus, to be deemed Young Guns, candidates last year had to meet a series of metrics. Reaching a fundraising threshold put candidates “on the radar.” Building a significant campaign operation made them contenders. Drafting a campaign plan leading to victory and reaching a higher fundraising goal elevated candidates to full Young Guns status.

Is the Young Guns activity responsible for the Republican landslide? It’s bound to have helped. Ryan thinks Young Guns has emboldened Republicans in the House. As a Young Guns leader, “I stick to my policy stuff,” he told me. Yet he has his own measurement for the impact of Young Guns.

In 2008, he had 8 House cosponsors for his Road Map, whose sweeping reform of entitlements was controversial. In 2010, with the House controlled by Democrats before the election, he had 13.

Everything changed this year with the influx of GOP freshmen, three-fourths of them Young Guns. Ryan drafted a budget that mirrored his Road Map. Only 4 Republicans in the House voted against it. In the Senate, only 5 Republicans voted no. Would this have happened absent Young Guns? Not a chance.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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