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May 3rd, 2010
09:00 AM ET

The 'young guns' of the GOP

By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello, CNN

(CNN) – You might think that Republican "young guns" are youthful, pro-gun members of the GOP. Actually, it's the name of a program created by the National Republican Congressional Committee (RNCC) to recruit and help promising new GOP candidates who are running for House seats.

We decided to talk a look at "young guns" to understand a bit better how national parties recruit their candidates.

For the GOP, any non-incumbent running for Congress can join the program. While many have applied (114 so far), few (10 so far) have been chosen. In order to become a full-blown "young gun" and receive the full package of financial and other help from the national party, candidates must prove they can win their district by meeting a set of criteria. The entry level position in the program is "on the radar," followed by "contender" and then "young gun".

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas oversees the program. He insists an allegiance to conservative ideology is not the main criterion in recruiting and supporting candidates. What is? "Well, I've said for a long time, we got a big litmus test: to be able to win your district."

Sessions also told us GOP candidates must prove they can raise money, display campaign organizational skills and "it would be great if they were a community leader in one regard or another." What else? "Experience running a business or having a medical background" also would be a plus.

In fact, this year more than 40 of the "young gun" candidates are small business owners, along with dozens of doctors or medical providers.

We traveled to Ohio to take an up close and personal look at one potential "young gun." Jim Renacci, a small business owner, is hoping to gain the GOP nomination for Congress in the 16th Congressional District. The primary election is May 4 and the winner will face the Democratic incumbent, Rep. John Boccieri. Renacci is a GOP "contender," one step below "young gun." Should he win the primary, he'll get a big boost in the general election if the party promotes him to "young gun."

We found Renacci crisscrossing his district to remind voters over and over and over about his business background:

At warehouse services firm: "I've been a businessman my whole life."
At a local tavern in Canton: "As a business owner, certainty and predictability is what we need."
At a potato chip factory in Wooster: "I have…27 years of experience of creating jobs."
And at a town meeting, also in Wooster: "I've made sure I've met my payroll…"

As for an ability to raise money, Renacci may well have improved his "young gun" bona fides by raising more than $650,000.

The NRCC says the announcement of the next group of "young guns" is expected some time in May. Renacci is hopeful.

"I always say that I've never failed at anything, so I'm not planning on not becoming a 'young gun.' I'm going to keep on working very hard. I mean, the criteria is there. I think as long as you lay out the plan, I'm going to work very hard to get there."

Filed under: Politics
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. john doe

    You all are screwed up!!! Young guns shoot wildly and often miss!!! I watch how you all run the capital!!! You a bunch of fool's!!! Starting with OBAMA!!!

    May 3, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  2. Tam

    Interesting, once upon a time a name like youngs guns would and should've been taboo. I mean didn't they make a whole profesional team change their name. "Bullets" to "Wizards". We sure have come far, just not sure in what direction in some circles these days.

    May 3, 2010 at 9:10 am |