The overwhelming majority of the 87 Republican lawmakers who swept into Congress in 2010 and took control of the U.S. House are likely to be re-elected this year, according to strategists and an analysis of redistricting changes.
That wave — fueled in large part by Tea Party momentum and campaign pledges of fiscal conservatism — is unlikely to recede in 2012 far enough to give Democrats the opportunity to regain control of the chamber.
"A lot of the freshmen are in good shape," said David Wasserman, an election analyst for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.
Ten freshman lawmakers are running in districts that are significantly more Republican by 5 or more points because of redistricting. The clearest winner is Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, who defeated Democratic incumbent Solomon Ortiz in 2010 by fewer than 800 votes but is running in a district that election forecasters view as out of reach for Democrats.
Just three freshman GOP lawmakers, Illinois Reps. Joe Walsh and Robert Dold and New York's Ann Marie Buerkle, are running for re-election in districts where Democrats are clear favorites.
Walsh said he is "as confident as I can be" in his race against Democrat Tammy Duckworth, in which he continues to embrace the Tea Party ethos. "I would never run from that. I still firmly believe the Tea Party movement in this country is the silent majority," he said.Walsh recently illustrated one reason why he is not a favorite for reelection. WLS-TV reports:
Republican Congressman Joe Walsh is in hot water with veterans groups after he slammed his opponent, Democrat Tammy Duckworth, claiming the Iraq war veteran and double amputee talks too much about her military service.
His comment at a recent town hall meeting has now been posted on YouTube.
Walsh is defending what he said. "Of course, Tammy Duckworth is a hero," Walsh writes in a statement. "Her service demands our thanks and our respect but not our vote."
A spokesperson for Duckworth also released a statement. It reads in part, "Congressman Walsh's comments insult those who sacrificed to make this country free. Tammy is proud of her over 20 years of service with the army.