In a sign that House Democrats are increasingly optimistic that this will be another wave election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today is set to announce that 14 more candidates will be added to its Red to Blue program.
Red to Blue, a fundraising and infrastructure program focused on flipping Republican-held House seats, now includes 37 candidates, although some in this latest group of 14 had previously been revealed in piecemeal fashion by the DCCC. Also today, the DCCC will unveil a list of 20 candidates who could be on pace to qualify for Red to Blue in the near future.
The candidates for change being named to the DCCC Red to Blue program are running strong campaigns and are committed to making things easier for middle class families in their districts, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said in a statement.
In the previous cycle, Red to Blue raised $22.6 million for 56 Democratic House challenger candidates, an average of nearly $404,000 per campaign. Red to Blue is also credited by the DCCC with ensuring that the candidates who participated ran competent campaigns capable of capitalizing on a favorable political environment.
The National Republican Congressional Committee dismissed the latest additions to Red to Blue as weak candidates.
The DCCC is now trotting out their B-list candidates for the sake of landing a cheap press hit, NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said. The truth of the matter is that many of these very same candidates have been running for months, but had been rejected for admittance into the Red to Blue program because Chris Van Hollen and the DCCC doubted their viability.
Democrats remain confident that the DCCCs fundraising advantage over the NRCC the DCCC finished April with $45.2 million on hand, while the NRCC had $6.7 million as well as the political advantages on issues and at the top of the presidential ticket will help generate big House gains in November.
Several of the 14 new Red to Blue candidates are running in party primaries, so their inclusion on the list seems to contradict the DCCCs official policy of staying neutral in primaries. Spain chided Van Hollen for officially declining to endorse in primaries while simultaneously including candidates running in primaries in Red to Blue.
Among the latest Red to Blue additions who face primary opposition are Caddo Parish District Attorney Paul Carmouche, running in Louisianas 4th district; former state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizonas 1st); New York City Councilman Michael McMahon (New Yorks 13th); and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Dina Titus (Nevadas 3rd).
This latest slate of Red to Blue candidates include former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (Alaskas at-large); Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly (Virginias 11th); Miami-Dade County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia (Floridas 25th); former Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich (New Mexicos 1st); Queen Anne County States Attorney Frank Kratovil (Marylands 1st); attorney Bob Lord (Arizonas 3rd); former Senate aide Betsy Markey (Colorados 4th); ex-Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez (Floridas 21st); businessman Glenn Nye (Virginias 2nd); and former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague (New Mexicos 2nd).
Among the 20 Democratic candidates on the Red to Blue watch list are former Nevada Democratic Party Chairwoman Jill Derby, who is in a rematch with Rep. Dean Heller (R) in Nevadas 2nd district; attorney Nick Leibham, who is challenging Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) in Californias 50th; and wind energy executive Michael Skelly, who is challenging Rep. John Culberson (R) in Texas 7th.
Van Hollen said the Red to Blue program is integral to the DCCCs 2008 effort.
With less than five months to make their case for change to voters in their districts, the Red to Blue program will give these candidates the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November, he said.