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DCCC Expands Beneficiary List

First Round of ‘R2B’ Deemed a Success

After a successful first run of their newly devised R2B program, House Democrats have decided to expand the fundraising effort, naming a new set of candidates as beneficiaries.

The need-based “Red to Blue” program, which the party kicked off earlier this month, has a goal of directing approximately $200,000 each to cash-strapped campaigns around the country.

Already this month Democrats say they have successfully raised and funneled a total of $2.8 million to the 13 candidates initially identified as targets for the funds.

The goal of the program is to give top candidates a quick influx of cash at a time when it can be put to optimal use.

“This helps us expand the playing field for one thing,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.). “Secondly, it just gives us many more opportunities as we approach the final month in the election.”

The next 10 candidates who will benefit from the effort are: Melissa Bean, running against Rep. Phil Crane (R-Ill.); Jon Jennings, who faces Rep. Jon Hostettler (R-Ind.); Nick Clooney, who is running for Kentucky’s open 4th district seat; Teresa Daly, who is challenging Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.); Matt Connealy, who is vying for the open seat in Nebraska’s 1st district; Tom Gallagher, who faces Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.); Patsy Keever, who is challenging Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.); Allyson Schwartz, who is seeking Pennsylvania’s 13th district open seat; Joe Driscoll, who is running for the 15th district open seat in Pennsylvania; and Dave Ross, who is seeking the open seat in Washington’s 8th district.

While party strategists stress that the program does not double as their final list of targeted races, almost all of the 23 candidates pegged for the program so far are in districts where the DCCC has already purchased television ad time.

Republicans are currently favored in almost all of those contests and although Democratic leaders maintain otherwise, the party’s chances of winning a majority of seats in this year’s elections remain grim. At best, the party may pick up two to three seats, analysts believe.

Republicans say it’s too late in the cycle for Democrats to try to expand their list of pick-up opportunities.

“At this point in time the number of competitive races is going the way of [Sen.] John Kerry’s [D-Mass.] poll numbers — straight down,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Carl Forti. “It’s way too late in the game to be expanding the playing field.”

The already limited field of competitive races shrunk by one recently. While Rep. Clay Shaw (R-Fla.) had been a lower-tier target for Democrats this cycle, his opponent dropped out of the race earlier this month and state election officials have ruled that Democrats cannot put a replacement on the ballot.

While House Democrats are in a better financial position than their Senate counterparts, Republicans still held a cash-on-hand advantage heading into September.

The DCCC ended August with almost $21 million in the bank, while the NRCC had close to $26 million on hand.

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