Rep. Susan Brooks easily won in 2018, but Democrats are already gearing up for 2020
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks has won four straight elections to Congress, though 2018's was her closest. This year marks the first time the Carmel Republican has found herself in the House minority.
And while she has expressed confidence about her continued ability to get things done in the U.S. House, some national Democratic strategists have a different view.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put Brooks on its “2020 Republican Retirement Watch List," and announced Tuesday that it is purchasing its first digital ads for Twitter targeting the congresswoman. The DCCC previously put Brooks on its list of 33 targeted seats in its 2020 strategy.
Brooks beat her 2018 Democratic opponent, Dee Thornton, by nearly 14 percentage points in November.
That election, however, was her closest congressional race to date. And across the country, districts containing large suburban areas — like Brooks' district — generally turned more blue in November, helping Democrats win the majority in the House.
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Mike Gwin, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wouldn't say how much it's spending on the ads but said "it's a significant digital buy." Digital political ad spending in 2018 grew substantially nationwide over the previous midterm cycle, in 2014, but paled in comparison to local and cable TV spending that same year, according to Axios.
The committee's watch list contains 18 other House members whom the DCCC thinks could and should retire.
“Whether it’s waking up each morning to read the President’s tweets that they’ll be answering for or slowly coming to the realization that they aren’t in control any more, we expect to see a steady stream of frustrated Washington Republicans heading for the exits," Gwin said. "Retirements played a major role as Democrats won back the House last year and, in 2020, we expect Republican retirements to aid our effort to expand the Democratic House Majority.”
Brooks, who hasn't responded to requests for comment, has previously said she remains optimistic that she could still make some meaningful legislative gains, even in the minority. For example, during the first week of Democratic control, the House passed one of Brooks' bills on pandemic awareness.
Camille Gallo, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, criticized Democrats for their list.
"Democrats adding Susan Brooks to a retirement list is almost as laughable as their Green New Deal," Gallo said. "Before Democrats try abolishing ICE, airplanes and individual freedoms, perhaps they should start by abolishing this asinine list."
While Brooks defends her own seat, she'll also be focusing on helping other Republicans win in 2020, in her role as recruitment chair for House Republicans. In her own district, she can relate to two of her goals in that role: electing Republicans in suburban districts and electing women.
"I just think we need to diversify the composition of our conference," Brooks told IndyStar last month. "We did not do well at all in the urban and suburban areas, and I'm not willing as a person who represents a great urban-suburban-rural district, I'm not ready for the Republicans to give that up."
Call IndyStar Statehouse reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.