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Two Washington State Democrats to Face Off for DCCC Chair

Denny Heck and Suzan Delbene announced bids Wednesday

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., led the DCCC’s recruitment this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., led the DCCC’s recruitment this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Washington state Democrats with crucial roles in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year are facing off to lead the House Democrats’ campaign arm next cycle.

Both Reps. Denny Heck and Suzan DelBene on Wednesday announced bids to lead the committee. The current chairman, New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, is expected to run for a different leadership position.

The two lawmakers had a hand in Democrats winning the House on Tuesday. Heck served as the DCCC’s recruitment chairman during a cycle when Democrats can argue they were able to win more Republican-leaning seats because they ran high-quality candidates who fit their districts. DelBene served as the committee’s finance co-chairwoman in a year when Democratic candidates raked in an unprecedented amount of money.

Heck and DelBene laid out their arguments in letters to colleagues on Wednesday, with both emphasizing that Democrats need to focus on digital targeting and advertising in the coming election cycle and warning against letting Republicans gain an advantage in digital campaigning.

Heck, who also co-chaired the committee’s Red to Blue program, said the DCCC needed to approach the 2020 cycle differently, focusing on defending the majority rather than flipping GOP seats.

“It is simply more cost-effective to protect an incumbent than to defeat one,” Heck said. “ We will absolutely continue to recruit — I couldn’t stop doing that if I wanted to — but our resources and attention need to shift.”

DelBene noted in her letter that she raised more than $4.1 million as finance co-chairwoman and contributed to candidates on the Red to Blue list as well as to the committee itself.

She also argued that she knows how to win in a competitive district and appeal to different groups of voters.

“Mine includes a diverse set of constituents ranging from farmers and struggling rural communities to suburban families, immigrants and tech workers,” DelBene wrote.

Both candidates comfortably won re-election Tuesday night in races Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated Solid Democratic.Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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