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Democrats add five candidates to Red to Blue program

Races in Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin getting extra DCCC help

Democrat Ashley Ehasz, who is making her second run in Pennsylviania's 1st District, attends a campaign rally on Nov. 6, 2022.
Democrat Ashley Ehasz, who is making her second run in Pennsylviania's 1st District, attends a campaign rally on Nov. 6, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has named five candidates vying to flip Republican-held seats or hold onto an open seat the party wants to protect to a program that provides extra help on the campaign trail. 

The candidates added Wednesday to the Red to Blue program are: Shomari Figures in Alabama’s 2nd District; Kristen McDonald Rivet in Michigan’s 8th District; Ashley Ehasz in Pennsylvania’s 1st District; Janelle Stelson in Pennsylvania’s 10th District; and Peter Barca in Wisconsin’s 1st District. 

“The five candidates added to the ‘Red to Blue’ program today will authentically represent their districts – a stark contrast to their extreme, far-right opponents,” DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene said in a statement. “They come from diverse backgrounds and are all trusted community leaders focused on lowering costs, strengthening the middle class, building safe communities, and defending reproductive rights. I am excited to work with each of them as Democrats retake the majority this November.” 

The additions, shared first with CQ Roll Call, come in several districts that the DCCC had already said it expected to be part of the November battlefield, but signal that the candidates are considered to be strong contenders to flip their seats, or in McDonald Rivet’s case, hold on to a seat where Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee is retiring. The designation could put a greater spotlight on their races.

Candidates named to the program “receive strategic guidance, fundraising support, staff resources, and training,” according to a news release. 

In Alabama, Democrats are in a strong position to pick up a seat after the state was ordered to draw a new map that would give Black voters greater influence to pick their representative in a second district. Figures, a former Obama administration White House official who most recently worked for the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, clinched the Democratic nomination in an April runoff. The Republican incumbent in the 2nd District, Rep. Barry Moore, chose to challenge fellow Republican Rep. Jerry Carl in the 1st District instead and won that March 5 primary.

Figures will face Republican Caroleen Dobson, an attorney, in November. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race as Likely Democratic. 

The additions from Pennsylvania come more than a month after the state’s primary, when Stelson defeated five Democrats to win the nomination to challenge GOP Rep. Scott Perry, a former House Freedom Caucus chair. A poll conducted for Stelson’s campaign after her win found she trailed Perry by 2 percentage points. Inside Elections rates the race as Lean Republican. 

Ehasz is challenging Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick again this year after losing to him by 10 percentage points in 2022. Fitzpatrick is one of the 17 Republicans who hold seats that Joe Biden would have won in 2020. Inside Elections rates the race as Likely Republican. 

McDonald Rivet, a member of the Michigan Senate, needs to clear an Aug. 6 primary before she’s officially the nominee for the 8th District. Three other Democrats are running, as well as four Republicans, including Paul Junge, who lost to Kildee in 2022 and lost a 2020 race to Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Inside Elections rates the race as Tilt Democratic.

Barca is seeking to return to the House after serving one term in the 1990s. He then went on to serve a second stint in the state Assembly, including as Democratic minority leader, and in Gov. Tony Evers’ administration. To challenge GOP Rep. Bryan Steil in November, he’ll need to win the Democratic nomination in an Aug. 13 primary. Inside Elections rates the race as Likely Republican.

The additions bring the total number of Red to Blue candidates this year to 25.

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