The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Monday named 17 top challengers in competitive House districts to its inaugural list of races slated for extra resources and attention.
The “Red to Blue” list, part of the Democrats’ strategy to reclaim the House majority, includes a former member running in a key special election next month and several candidates making another run for a seat they lost in 2022, when Republicans won House control. Democrats need to flip a net of five seats to take control back.
“House Democrats have multiple paths to winning back the majority and this incredible slate of candidates are at the forefront of these efforts,” DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene said in a statement. “These candidates reflect the broad and diverse coalition that will be critical to Democrats’ success in 2024, and their commitment to solving the urgent problems facing everyday Americans stand in stark contrast to the MAGA fealty of their opponents.”
Ten of the 17 Democrats selected are running in districts where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in 2020, and several narrowly lost in 2022. Among the candidates making return runs are Kristen Engel in Arizona’s 6th District, who lost to Rep. Juan Ciscomani by a little more than 5,000 votes; Adam Gray in California’s 13th District, who came within 564 votes of beating Rep. John Duarte; Rudy Salas in California’s 22nd District, who lost to Rep. David Valadao by less than 3,200 votes; Adam Frisch in Colorado’s 3rd District, who lost to Rep. Lauren Boebert by 546 votes; and Tony Vargas in Nebraska’s 2nd District, who came within 5,900 votes of ousting Rep. Don Bacon. Other returning candidates include Will Rollins of California’s 41st District and Michelle Vallejo of Texas’ 15th District.
Former Rep. Mondaire Jones, who made an unsuccessful run in another district after redistricting in 2022, made the list for his comeback bid in New York’s 17th District, where he is seeking to oust GOP Rep. Mike Lawler. Former Rep. Tom Suozzi is also on the list for his race to take back New York’s 3rd District, which is vacant since the expulsion of GOP Rep. George Santos. Suozzi gave up the seat to run for governor last cycle, and now is vying in a Feb. 13 special election.
The National Republican Congressional Committee wasn’t impressed with the Democrats on the DCCC’s list, saying voters had already rejected many of them. “No one likes week-old crusty lasagna, but in desperate times you re-serve it while trying to convince your kids it’s the greatest meal of their life,” NRCC spokesman Will Reinert said in an email. “The same goes for the DCCC — these candidates were a flop last cycle, and no amount of spin will convince voters they are not too extreme to represent them in Congress.”
The “Red to Blue” program only includes challengers, and the DCCC also has a separate effort called the “Frontline” program for vulnerable incumbents. Both initiatives offer candidates help with strategic guidance, staff and fundraising support. Importantly, both programs signal to potential donors that these candidates are worthy recipients of campaign funds.
In addition to Engel, Gray, Salas, Frisch, Vargas, Suozzi, Jones, Rollins and Vallejo, candidates name to the “Red to Blue” program Monday were:
George Whitesides of California’s 27th District, running against Rep. Mike Garcia; Christina Bohannan of Iowa’s 1st District, running against Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks; Lanon Baccam of Iowa’s 3rd District, running against Rep. Zach Nunn; Monia Tranel of Montana’s 1st District, running against Rep. Ryan Zinke; Josh Riley of New York’s 19th District, running against Rep. Marc Molinaro; Janelle Bynum of Oregon’s 5th District, running against Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer; and Missy Cotter Smasal of Virginia’s 2nd District, running against Rep. Jen Kiggans.
The DCCC is also backing Curtis Hertel, who is running in an open seat in Michigan’s 7th District.