DCCC unveils top-tier House recruits
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, launching its bid to win back the House majority, has unveiled its list of top 2012 recruits.
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel announced 18 candidates on Wednesday who are being inducted into the House Democratic campaign arm’s “Red to Blue” program, which aims to provide support to top candidates across the country.
The committee is placing a heavy emphasis on Democrats looking to unseat GOP freshmen, tapping 10 candidates – including Colorado House Minority Leader Sal Pace, former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings and Virginia venture capitalist Paul Hirschbiel — who are running against Republicans swept into Congress in the 2010 midterm wave.
“The majority of the Red to Blue candidates are running against Republican House freshmen,” Israel told reporters in a Wednesday morning briefing. “And that’s because they’re vulnerable.”
The program includes three former members: former Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson and former New York Rep. Dan Maffei, both of whom lost their seats in 2010, and former Texas Rep. Nick Lampson, who lost his seat in 2008. There are also three Democrats who waged bids in 2010 but fell short: California physician Ami Bera, former Washington state House Majority Leader Denny Heck and New Hampshire attorney Ann McLane Kuster.
Israel said the committee would expand the list later in the year. In forming the initial program, the DCCC chairman said the committee was gauging early campaign strength. Several of those chosen — including
Bera, Kuster and former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack — have emerged as top fundraisers since launching their efforts.
The DCCC chairman also said it had tapped three candidates it expects to run in safely Democratic seats and win — former Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Texas state Rep. Joaquin Castro — to help the committee with fundraising.
Republicans hold a 25-seat edge in the House. Israel declined to back up House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s assessment at Tuesday’s POLITICO breakfast that Democrats could win as many as 35 seats in November, but said he was confident that the party had put the House in play.
“I can tell you it’s absolutely in play,” Israel said. “It’s going to be razor close.”