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Democrats Launch New Program for House Recruits

Steve Israel led the DCCC to raise $6.3 million last month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Steve Israel led the DCCC to raise $6.3 million last month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched a new program aimed at cultivating strong candidates in targeted districts for the 2014 elections.

The Jumpstart program “provides early financial, communications, operational and strategic support to help top-tier candidates get a head start in these highly-targeted races,” according to a memo that will be sent to donors and supporters today.

Eight Democrats have been tapped for the program so far based on recent polling:

  • Michael Eggman #CA10: A farmer by trade, Eggman is looking to unseat Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in a competitive district.
  • Pete Aguilar #CA31: The Redlands mayor lost the “top two” primary to Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller and another Republican in 2012. He announced in January that he will again attempt to win Miller’s seat.
  • Gwen Graham #FL02: Graham, daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, is challenging Rep. Steve Southerland II in the Northern Florida district that he won by about 5 points in 2012.
  • Ann Callis #IL13: A former judge, Callis will take on first-term Rep. Rodney Davis, who won his seat in 2012 by about 1,000 votes.
  • Jim Graves #MN06: Graves is running again in 2014 to unseat Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. Graves nearly pulled off an upset victory last cycle, losing to Bachmann by 1 point.
  • Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. #NY11: A New York City councilmember, Recchia is challenging Rep. Michael G. Grimm in the district that encompasses Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. Grimm handily won re-election in the redrawn district last cycle, beating Democrat Mark Murphy by 7 points.
  • Andrew Romanoff #CO06: Romanoff, a former state speaker, is challenging Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. Coffman won the district in 2012 by about 7,000 votes.
  • Kevin Strouse #PA08: Strouse, a former Army Ranger, is challenging Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick, who defeated Democrat Kathryn Boockvar by 13 points in 2012.

In the memo, DCCC Executive Director Kelly Ward sought to differentiate the Jumpstart program from the Democrats’ Red to Blue initiative, which rewards candidates who meet fundraising benchmarks and other campaign goals throughout the cycle. The Red to Blue program is similar to Republicans’ Young Guns initiative, which rewards Republican candidates who meet campaign benchmarks.

Jumpstart is an initial launching pad based on the quality of the candidate and the viability of the district in races where off-year progress is critical to success, while Red to Blue remains a program candidates earn by hitting specific metrics for their campaigns,” Ward wrote in the memo.

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