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DCCC, NRCC Add Races to Support Programs

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in its uphill battle to take back control of the House, will announce 14 new races placed on its Red to Blue program today.

The benchmark-based challenger-support program is offensive in nature, so today’s announcement gives the public a look at where the DCCC sees some of its best opportunities in its push to net 25 seats in November.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee is adding five Members to its incumbent-protection program, underlining races where the GOP will have to play defense.

Three of the races — two in New York and one in Wisconsin — overlap, signalling both parties are preparing for competitive battles.

The districts added to Democrats’ Red to Blue program include five in western states, emphasizing the importance of that region to the party’s effort. With redistricting complete in New York, the DCCC also added two districts in the Empire State to its list: the 18th and 19th, where GOP Reps. Nan Hayworth and Chris Gibson, respectively, face tough races to keep their seats. Also on the list are candidates challenging vulnerable freshmen who rode to Congress on the 2010 GOP wave. Businessman Patrick Murphy, running against Rep. Allen West (R) in Florida’s 18th district, and former state Rep. Gary McDowell, running against Rep. Dan Benishek in Michigan’s 1st district, were put in the program’s top tier.

“These candidates have earned a spot in this competitive program by being on offense and working tirelessly to hold Republicans accountable for repeatedly choosing Millionaires over Medicare,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said in a statement. “As long as Republicans have the wrong priorities for the middle class, they’re going to be unable to defend themselves against these top-tier Democratic candidates who have put control of the House in play.”

The DCCC also added 13 challengers and districts to its “Emerging Races” list, the silver tier of its offensive program. That list includes many candidates running in districts with a strong Republican tilt, such as Hayden Rogers, retiring North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler’s former chief of staff. Rogers is the likely Democratic nominee in a district that would have voted only 40 percent for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

Finally, Democrats added four candidates to their “Majority Makers” list, a special tier of the program for candidates in strongly Democratic districts.

Democrats are likely to pick up seats this cycle, but right now, they face a challenge in taking back the House because many of their Members are vulnerable.

The NRCC is moving Hayworth and Gibson as well as Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Chip Cravaack (Minn.) and Reid Ribble (Wis.) to its “Patriot” program. The three New Yorkers were all given less Republican seats under a court-mandated redistricting plan released last month and are in tossup races.

“The Patriot Program is about staying on offense by building strong and winning campaigns against Democrats and their agenda that bankrupts our nation,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said in a statement. “Patriot members have demonstrated the leadership and ability to wage aggressive campaigns based on rigorous goals and proven strategies for victory.”

With the five additions, there are 34 Members in the Patriot program. The most recent “Patriot Day” fundraising event raised $1.5 million for 10 vulnerable Members. The next “Patriot Day” is scheduled for May 17 and will benefit the five new Members in the program.

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