Recruitment matters for House Democrats, who are already aggressively pursuing potential candidates in order to the expand the congressional playing field and put House control in play, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said Wednesday.
"We will win in 2014 in 2013," he said in a briefing for reporters and groups allied with the party.
Israel ticked through a number of internal DCCC recruiting programs which he said would put his party on a strong footing for the mid-term elections. In 2014, the party must net 17 seats to take control of the House.
Among handful of potential candidates he floated: Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida governor and Sen. Bob Graham, in Florida's 2nd District, currently held by two-term Republican Rep. Steve Southerland II; and Brendan Mullen, a 2012 nominee who fell short against now-freshman Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican, in Indiana's 2nd District. Voters in both districts tend to lean Republican.
"We will make 2014 a referendum on the tea party and we will win that referendum by recruiting. deploying and fielding candidates who run as solutionists and problem solvers," Israel said.
The New York lawmaker framed the Democratic agenda as one of "solutions and progress."
In the briefing, held at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., Israel also emphasized what he described as a technology advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee, especially in data and targeting. And he said for every inch Republicans move forward in those arenas, Democrats would make a "quantum leap."
"They will not be able to catch up with us," he said. "We are deploying new, exquisite cutting edge targeting and data technologies. We keep them in the Bat Cave downstairs. I could tell you about them, but I’d have to kill you," he said, smiling.
But with all the bullish talk on recruiting and technology, Israel was unwilling to definitively say that the House is in play.
"I'll let you know in a year whether we're going to be north or south of 17 seats," he said.
The NRCC is also aggressively recruiting and a spokesman for that organization said its technology, polling and digital efforts would be strong this cycle.
Abby Livingston contributed to this report.