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Steve Israel: Hard for Democrats to Win House Majority in 2016

Israel is tasked with communicating House Democrats' message to voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Israel is tasked with communicating House Democrats' message to voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve Israel, the New York Democrat who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2012 and 2014 cycles, said winning the House majority will be tough for Democrats, but predicted his party will pick up between eight to 10 seats in 2016.  

“It’s going to be hard for us to win the majority,” Israel said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmaker’s” program that aired Sunday, and added later, “When you take a look at all the recruits, when you take a look at presidential performance, I believe that not only will be pick up seats, but I really think that the DCCC can expect to pick up at least a foundation of eight to 10 seats, maybe more with a strong wind behind us.”  

During the half-hour-long program, Israel slammed House Republicans who he said are mired by “constant infighting and struggles” within their caucus. And added that while he’s hoping the government does not shut down in October, when funding is set to expire, he said Republicans will need to be willing to negotiate with Democrats on adding “fair revenues” to avoid “cutting into the bone of the middle class.”  

“I’m hoping, I’m praying, I’m getting down on my knees, I’m standing up, I’m doing everything that I can to avoid the kind of shutdown Republicans have given us consistently and repeatedly,” Israel said. “Republicans need to be at the table and be willing to discuss revenues. If Republicans continue to insist on protecting big corporations at the expense of the middle class, then you can expect there to be a shutdown.”  

Israel — who was appointed to chair the new Democratic Policy and Communications Committee to keep House Democrats on the same page on what they communicate  — slammed House Republicans for the fight over the Confederate battle flag that played out on the House floor last week. And he said Democrats will push that message in 2016.  

“This issue reflects basic principles, basic values, and if Republicans, including the ones in the House, are going to insist on raising the Confederate flag wherever they can whenever they can, we’re going to continue to insist on raising objections to that with all the tools we have.”  

Israel added that while voters agree with his party on the ways to fix the economy, the Democratic message is too fragmented for voters to understand.  

“When people agree with you on the substance, but then you lose on the question, that’s a message problem,” Israel said. “The problem isn’t that Democrats don’t have a message, the problem is that Democrats have too many messages. And so Republicans have created an art form to laddering up to two things: taxes and spending. What do Democrats often do? We ladder down to our 92-point plan on everything. And so we’ve got to be more disciplined and focused.”  

The full program airs at 6 p.m. Sunday on C-SPAN.  


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