Speaker Mike Johnson is gearing up for a fight in the Empire State in 2024 to help maintain the handful of seats flipped by GOP lawmakers during last year’s election cycle.
House Republicans managed to clinch their razor-thin, four-vote majority after a handful of Republicans were elected in swing districts throughout New York in 2022. Now, Democrats are setting their sights on those vulnerable districts to take back the House.
Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican, plans to beat House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, New York Democrat, to the punch.
The speaker said on the radio show Cats and Cosby that he was heading to New York “as early as next week” to do events in the vulnerable districts to help retain and grow the GOP’s slim majority.
“We are going to retain those seats for those incredible members of Congress that the republican party sent to us from New York,” Mr. Johnson said. “That was one of the reasons we all know that we won the majority. Those are our majority makers, those members.”
Mr. Johnson’s New York “majority makers” include freshman Reps. Marc Molinaro, Mike Lawler, Brandon Williams and Anthony D’Esposito. The Cook Political Report has listed those districts as “toss-up” seats, meaning either party has a good chance of winning the district.
Democrats need to flip only five seats to secure the majority and Democratic groups are already mobilizing to gain ground in the battleground state.
Battleground New York, a Democratic coalition group, has promised to flip the five seats in districts that President Biden won in 2020.
“Grassroots campaigning is our strategy,” the organization said on X. “Taking back the House is our goal. The battle for the House runs through New York and we are determined to win it.”
The battle for New York earned a new wrinkle this week when embattled Republican Rep. George Santos announced he would not seek reelection to a second term following a string of indictments accusing the lawmaker of fraud, a searing House Ethics Committee report and another attempt by lawmakers to expel him from the chamber.
Mr. Santos’ seat is also considered a toss-up district. Several Republicans and Democrats, including former lawmaker Tom Suozzi who previously held Mr. Santos’ seat but left to launch an unsuccessful bid for governor, have filed to claim the district.
Mr. Johnson’s vow to secure the competitive seats means that he will go head-to-head with Mr. Jeffries, who is vying to take back the House for Democrats and secure the gavel for himself. Mr. Johnson said that he and Mr. Jeffries have developed a friendship and that he trusts his Democratic counterpart.
But that newfound relationship will have no play in maintaining the GOP’s majority.
“We’ve got to defeat these guys at the ballot,” Mr. Johnson said.