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Rep. Israel: Aim Is 25, but No Promises

Tom Williams/Roll Call

“So the despair on our finances in the hours after the election has been answered by new facts on the ground, and that includes our Member dues,” he said.

Going forward, the chairman is devoting much of his time to recruitment in an effort to push a full offensive in 2012, when Democrats should have plenty of opportunities, on paper at least. There are 61 Republicans serving in districts that Obama won in 2008 compared with 12 Democrats serving in districts won by  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Israel spends three weekends a month on recruitment road trips and will travel to Florida next week, having already visited Arizona and Illinois, among other states.

He is also beginning to play some defense. The DCCC staff will name lawmakers to its Frontline program for vulnerable incumbents before the end of March, according to Israel. All but 10 of the DCCC’s 42 Frontline candidates in 2010 lost their seats.

Sitting at a small conference table inside his second-floor corner DCCC office Friday morning, the military history buff promised that he would fight aggressively to recapture the House majority in 2012, despite the admission that he may fail.

“Members know that we’re being aggressive,” he said, sipping from a Gettysburg coffee mug and glancing at a nearby painting of a colonel fighting in that pivotal Civil War battle. “They like seeing headlines that say, ‘Democrats’ newfound aggressiveness.’ They like turning on the television and hearing prominent pundits say, ‘The Democrats are fighting back, they have backbone.’ They are willing to fund an operational plan based on assertiveness. And they’re seeing that. They’re absolutely seeing that every day.”

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