One central reason is that they are looking forward to competing at midterm turnout levels, when fewer Democratic-friendly minority voters are likely to cast ballots. "Some seats will continue to change in demographic ways that will probably get tougher for Republicans, but especially in the seats we lost, those members should all be immediately vulnerable in a midterm turnout dynamic," said GOP consultant Rob Stutzman. That's enough to give your generic Republican candidate a near-automatic bump. But the GOP also may have 2014 candidates better equipped to succeed in swing districts than the ousted veterans who lost the seats last year. The districts of defeated GOP Reps. Dan Lungren, Mary Bono Mack, and Brian Bilbray all transformed underneath them over the past decade -- with redistricting giving them a final push -- from safe GOP seats to battlegrounds. Their 22 terms of combined experience didn't include success defending battleground turf, and Democrats tarred each of them as tools of Washington special interests during the 2012 campaign.
Spanish-speaking second-term GOP Rep. Jeff Denham, who represented Democratic-leaning territory when he was in the state legislature, was the only targeted California Republican to hang on in the general election, even though President Obama carried his district. "Denham managed to hold on mostly because he's a really good candidate," said Gilliard, Denham's consultant, and he and other Republicans think the new crop of candidates might bring more Denham-like qualities to the table.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has already conducted polling testing former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is openly gay, as a "new generation Republican" more interested in fiscal issues than social ones, Roll Call reported earlier this month. DeMaiolooks set to run against Peters, having narrowly lost a bid for mayor last year. Meanwhile, state Assemblyman Brian Nestande has already filed to take on Ruiz. Nestande also has a story to tell about being a different kind of Republican: He resigned his Assembly leadership position last year after standing against the rest of his party on a business tax vote.
Even a former congressman considering a run against Bera, Republican Doug Ose (one of several contemplating a campaign in that district), "was kind of a quirky one with a story to tell about being different, even as an older white male," said Stutzman, who worked for Lungren in 2012 and could work with Ose if he runs. Ose built a personal fortune in real estate and storage units and honored a three-term pledge he made when he first ran for Congress 15 years ago.