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Democrats add four candidates to ‘Red to Blue’ program

Three more women and first Black man added will get extra party help

Illinois Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Illinois Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats’ campaign arm is adding more candidates to its program for strong challengers, underscoring that Democrats appear to be on offense in November while simultaneously defending their majority.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added four Democrats to its Red to Blue program, which gives candidates additional access to DCCC strategy, resources and training, according to information shared first with CQ Roll Call.

“House Democrats are on offense because of a strong recruiting class committed to strengthening the firewall against Republican attacks on Americans’ health care,” DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said in a statement. 

Three women candidates were added to the program, along with Cameron Webb, a physician who won a primary last week in Virginia’s 5th District. Webb is the first Black man named to the program, which now totals 24 candidates. Twenty of those candidates are women, and several are women of color.

Here are the new additions to the Red to Blue program:

Dana Balter, New York

Balter is the apparent winner of last week’s Democratic primary in the 24th District to take on GOP Rep. John Katko, who is one of three Republicans running for reelection in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016. The Associated Press has yet to call the race, but Balter led Navy veteran Francis Conole in initial returns, with 65 percent of the vote to Conole’s 36 percent. Conole conceded to Balter on Thursday.

Balter lost to Katko by 5 percentage points in 2018 after battling against the DCCC’s preferred candidate to win the primary. In 2016, Clinton won the 24th District, which includes Syracuse, by 4 points. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Lean Republican.

Michelle De La Isla, Kansas

De La Isla is the first Latina elected mayor of Topeka in Kansas’ 2nd District, which the DCCC added to its target list in January. President Donald Trump carried the district by 18 points in 2016, but Democrats believe they have an opportunity to unseat GOP Rep. Steve Watkins, who is under investigation for allegedly illegally voting in a Topeka election.

De La Isla does have competition from fellow Democrat James K. Windholz in the Aug. 4 primary. Windholz does not appear to have raised enough funds to require filing campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission.

As of March 31, De La Isla had raised $378,000 and her campaign had $267,000 on hand. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Republican.

Hillary Scholten, Michigan

Michigan’s 3rd District is now an open seat race since independent Rep. Justin Amash is not running for reelection. Amash’s exit could help Republicans hold onto the seat by consolidating the GOP vote around the eventual Republican nominee. But Democrats still believe the district is within reach, arguing that Amash may have also drawn support from voters who oppose Trump, who may in turn back Scholten, an immigration attorney. Trump won the district by 9 points in 2016, but Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lost the 3rd District by less than half a point in 2018, according to Daily Kos Elections.

Scholten is the only Democrat running in the district, while multiple Republicans are competing in the Aug. 4 primary. Inside Elections rates the race Lean Republican.

Cameron Webb, Virginia

Webb defeated three other Democrats in last week’s primary in the 5th District, which Trump carried by 11 points in 2016. Webb is a physician who served on former President Barack Obama’s health policy team. Webb is also a lawyer, and volunteered at a clinic treating coronavirus patients at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where he is the director of public health policy.

Webb will be take on Republican Bob Good in November. Good, the former athletic director at Liberty University, defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman at party convention earlier this month. Inside Elections rates the 5th District race Solid Republican.

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