DCCC Picks 15 Members to Protect With Frontline

Giffords, McNerney, Bishop Make the List for 2012

Posted March 2, 2011 at 6:47pm

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will announce today the first 15 members of its incumbent retention program for the 2012 cycle, according to a document obtained by Roll Call.

There are 25 fewer incumbents in the initial DCCC Frontline program than there were two years ago thanks to the 63-seat net gain by Republicans in November. The list is dominated by Democrats who won close elections last fall in what was a historically down year for the party, and the light incumbent load signals the committee will be far more geared toward offense than last cycle.

One notable name on the list is Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in recovery from a gunshot wound suffered in January. The Arizona Democrat, whose district borders Mexico, won with less than 50 percent of the vote in what has proved to be a marginal district.

Others on the list include Reps. Tim Bishop (N.Y.) and Jerry McNerney (Calif.), whose razor-thin 2010 races lasted well past Election Day.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said the relatively small group of incumbents the committee is already working to defend allows it to focus on the 25 seats needed to win back the House majority.

“While the 2012 election will be dominated by Democrats on offense with 61 Republican-held seats that voted for President Obama in 2008, our success depends on our Members being successful,” the New York Democrat said in a statement provided to Roll Call. 

“The 15 Frontline Members are battle tested and survived tough re-elections to return to Congress.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DCCC chairwoman for Member and candidate services, will head the program, which helps Members expand their fundraising and outreach operations and requires them to set “aggressive fundraising goals, accelerate volunteer and recruitment efforts, and increase their online networking.”

One difference in the program this year is the fluidity of membership in the program, as incumbents could be added or removed based on political circumstances, which are likely to shift this year because of redistricting.

“The Frontline program builds on Members’ strengths, making sure they have the money, message and mobilization needed to be successful and continue fighting for the middle class families and small businesses in their districts,” Israel said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has a similar incumbent retention program, the Patriot Program.