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A Darkhorse Emerges for DCCC Chairman in 2016

Frankel's name has surfaced as a potential DCCC chair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Frankel's name has surfaced as a potential DCCC chair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats have two things on their minds heading into next month: How many seats the party will lose on Nov. 4, and who will be the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee?  

Since the spring , speculation swirled around three members: Reps. Donna Edwards of Maryland, Jim Himes of Connecticut and Jared Polis of Colorado.  

But according to several operatives and members, a couple of other names surfaced in recent weeks — including Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida. The freshman didn’t rule out the gig when CQ Roll Call contacted her office for comment.  “I am focused right now on electing as many Democrats to Congress as possible for the 2014 cycle,” Frankel said in a statement. “I will be honored to continue to these efforts going forward in whatever capacity I can be most helpful.”  

Frankel represents a wealthy South Florida district. In her first term, she’s emerged as a standout fundraiser for the DCCC. According to a tally of caucus fundraising from September, Frankel received some of the the highest marks of her class for her work for the committee — second only to Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.  

“I’ve heard her name mentioned a few times,” said one House Democratic insider, reiterating other comments to CQ Roll Call. “I don’t now how true it is, but we’ll have to see how the elections plays out.  

“We all know this is Pelosi’s decision and Pelosi’s decision alone,” the insider added.  

The House Democratic leader chooses the DCCC chairman each cycle. That will most likely be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, unless she unexpectedly steps down. She’s kept publicly mum on her decision.  

This cycle, Democrats must win 17 seats to take the gavel from the GOP, but it’s more probable the party will lose seats in the midterms. As a result, most operatives said next cycle’s DCCC chairman may be working with an even larger deficit.  

Even so, Democrats typically perform better on the ballot in presidential election years, so a handful of members in the caucus have their eye on the job. And despite the Frankel talk, most operatives said they think the DCCC chairman will be Edwards, Himes or Polis in 2016.  

There’s one other name insiders are floating right now: freshman Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts. But they also caution he’s more likely to run the committee in a few cycles.  

There’s a minute possibility the current chairman, Rep. Steve Israel could run the committee for a third term. But the New York Democrat has said repeatedly he is not interested.
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