People are increasingly energized, he said. The message was lets rev up the troops. Lets get going because theres a lot at stake and each of these elections is a choice about where we want to take this country. ... What youre seeing is that Democrats have woken up to the danger of Republican rule in Washington and the fact that that will be a return to the same policies that George [W.] Bush and the Republicans gave us for eight years. No one wants to return to that agenda.
Hes hoping to bolster that message with an aggressive voter contact program that in some districts has been active for more than a year.
It is the largest field operation that the DCCC has ever supported, Van Hollen said.
Working with state parties, the DCCC is now supporting field operations in 75 targeted districts, with each of those districts boasting its own field director and an average of five paid staffers. The DCCC also has its own in-house field operation staff, which looks to spot trends across districts and regions to help coordinate messages and make better use of resources.
Democrats hope those field efforts, combined with the nearly $14 million cash-on-hand advantage the DCCC has over the NRCC, will give them crucial advantages on the campaign trail over the next seven weeks.
But this summer saw political pundits ratchet up their estimates of Democratic losses in November. Most view a GOP takeover of the House to be a foregone conclusion. That, combined with massive spending by conservative third-party groups, has many vulnerable incumbents panicked, according to some party insiders.
Last week, the DCCC chairman was quick to push back against a New York Times story that indicated his committee had already decided to divert funds away from some of the most vulnerable Democrats this fall.
As in any cycle, there are always questions of exactly how to allocate resources, he said. This cycle is no different. But make no mistake, we are fully behind our candidates and have already invested in those races and will continue to do so.
Van Hollen painted a different picture of life inside the Democratic Caucus these days.
The mood is upbeat among our Members, he said. Its a clear contrast with the constant sort of national media gloom-and-doom story. I think youll find when our Members return they are upbeat, focused, battle-tested and in fighting form.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.