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DCCC Announces ‘Frontline’ Members

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Monday that 40 potentially vulnerable Members have been named to the “Frontline” program for the 2010 election cycle.

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) also named Reps. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) to lead the Frontline effort, which funnels committee resources to the most endangered members of the Democratic Caucus. Wasserman Schultz also serves as the DCCC’s vice chairwoman for incumbent retention, and Murphy, who ousted an incumbent in 2006, was a member of Frontline last cycle.

At 40 Members, this is the largest initial Frontline list since the program was launched in the 2004 election cycle.

But while the program starts out bigger than ever, it may not necessarily finish that way at the end of the cycle. For the first time, Members who are initially named to the list but find themselves without a serious challenge will “graduate” from the program and be removed from the list. Last cycle, the DCCC’s independent expenditure campaign invested significantly in only 10 of the 34 districts held by Frontline members, totaling 15 percent of the overall IE budget.

Almost all of the 40 Members are freshmen and sophomores who were elected in two strong Democratic cycles. Noticeably missing from this year’s list are more veteran Democrats like Reps. Chet Edwards (Texas), Dennis Moore (Kan.), Jim Matheson (Utah) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.). All four represent GOP- leaning districts, but only Edwards had a competitive challenge last year.

Also missing from the list is Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), who was a top target for the GOP last year. The DCCC invested heavily in helping Kanjorski win re-election with 52 percent of the vote, but the veteran lawmaker drew the leadership’s ire when he was one of 11 Democrats who initially voted against the stimulus plan in January. He voted for the stimulus conference report that passed Congress earlier this month.

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