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DCCC Chief Pleads for Outside Money

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told reporters Wednesday he is “frustrated” that his party’s outside groups have not supported House Democrats on television in the final stretch of the midterms.  

Many big Democratic players — such as environmental and labor groups — focused their financial firepower on the Senate, which is in play this cycle. This has caused increased anxiety  among House Democrats, who also face losses in 2014.  

House Democrats must pick up a net of 17 seats to win control of the House, but it’s increasingly likely the party will lose seats in that chamber this cycle. For the first time, Israel made a public plea to outside groups for their financial help.  “It is frustrating that the cavalry that has always been there doesn’t seem to be there,” the New York Democrat said. “My point is, I still have 20 days, and that is an eternity for outside groups to mount up the cavalry and get them up to the Hill.”  

Israel argued competing for money with Senate campaigns is not a zero-sum game.
“I think they can do both,” he said. “I don’t believe it has to be one or the other.” He said his committee’s priority is incumbent protection, but he urged Democratic groups to “not leave a single race on the table.”  

“We do have this incumbent-first strategy,” he said, reflecting his committee’s recent television ad reservation shifts  from offensive to defensive races in the last week  

He specifically pointed to former Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., in 2012 as the scenario he wanted to avoid this cycle. Chandler was always viewed as endangered, but most Democrats expected him to eventually pull out the win over Republican Andy Barr, who was victorious.  

Republicans immediately dismissed Israel’s comments on outside groups.  

“Chairman Israel needs stop the Washington blame game and admit that President Obama and his devastating policies are casting a large shadow over the landscape for House Democrats,” NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in a statement after the news conference.  

Israel sounded grim compared to previous appearances over his two-term tenure as DCCC chief. He repeated this was a “tough and unpredictable” environment for his party.  

He said, though, all of his incumbents are still in the fight.  

“Whether a wave erupts remains to be seen,” he said.  

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