Democrats see an opportunity to make Speaker Mike Johnson a central part of their strategy to overturn control of the House of Representatives in 2024

They believe that by promoting Johnson, they can connect him to extremist positions and make him a liability for Republicans across the country.

Susan DelBene, a member of the House of Representatives and chair of the Democratic Party's campaign committee, suggests that Johnson's track record is problematic, stating, "We may have a new face, but extremism is still present, and in fact, it may be even more radical." She acknowledges that voters may not know much about Johnson, but she believes that the more people learn about him, the more he can become a burden for Republicans.

DelBene points out Johnson's positions, such as wanting to overturn the 2020 election results, supporting a nationwide abortion ban, and advocating for cuts to social security and healthcare.

Turning the Speaker into a Political Brand: For years, Republicans have run ads linking vulnerable Democrats to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi. However, Republican strategist Ken Spain argues that it's challenging for Democrats to do the same with Johnson because he is relatively unknown to most American voters. He is less defined and, therefore, not a political vulnerability, at least for now.

Spain notes that the only way Johnson could become a political liability is if the majority in the House fails to function. Pressure to avoid any hint of the drama that led to his election after three other candidates couldn't unite the party is mounting on the new Speaker. If this dysfunction continues into 2024, it could become a significant problem.

New Speaker Departs from the Business-Friendly Leadership Model: Johnson belongs to a different faction of the Republican Party than his predecessors. Speakers like John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Kevin McCarthy had close ties to the Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, and corporate donors, which helped amass significant campaign funds. However, Johnson is closer to grassroots and evangelical circles.

While he may have fewer connections with the business community, Johnson has proven to be a successful fundraiser. He raised $1 million within the first few days after winning the Speaker's gavel.

John Duarte, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, acknowledges that Johnson has big shoes to fill in terms of fundraising, especially compared to Kevin McCarthy, who was a fundraising powerhouse. However, Duarte believes that Johnson has done an excellent job so far and has a positive image.

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy raised around $500 million through his own accounts, external Super PACs, and donations to the Republican Party's House campaign during the 2022 midterm cycle. The Congressional Leadership Fund, an external Super PAC that raised a significant portion of these funds and helped recruit and support Republican candidates, believes that Johnson can continue this fundraising success and asserts that the playing field hasn't changed with Johnson as Speaker.

Republicans Running in Swing Districts Praise Johnson's Style, Downplay Content: The battle for the House of Representatives will occur in approximately 60 out of 435 districts. Mike Garcia, another California Republican running in a competitive race, acknowledges that Johnson is more conservative than him and many other conference members. However, Garcia emphasizes that Johnson's personal positions on issues matter less than the legislative agenda and what they aim to achieve collectively.

While Johnson voted for a national abortion ban, Duarte highlights that the new Speaker has indicated that he won't push for such legislation in his new role, acknowledging the lack of political consensus on the issue.

Moderate Congressman Don Bacon from Nebraska echoes the sentiments of many centrists, downplaying Johnson's positions but praising his tone, which he believes will appeal to voters. Bacon emphasizes that Johnson's principles align with conservative values and are similar to Reagan's, making his message unifying and positive, without demonizing the other side.

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