Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials say they have exceeded internal benchmarks for 2012 recruitment, and today they will roll out a list of highlighted candidates running in a sample of the 41 open or Republican-held districts where a Democrat has filed or committed to run.
That was a goal that the DCCC hoped to reach by the end of September, putting the committee ahead of schedule in its effort to have strong candidates in 60 open or GOP-controlled districts.
This recruitment push, led by DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), who chairs the DCCC's recruitment and candidate services, is part of its Drive to 25 campaign to win back the majority next year.
"Democrats' path to the majority begins with strong candidates running solid campaigns and fighting against the Republican plan to end Medicare while protecting tax breaks for Big Oil and billionaires," Israel will say in a release that the DCCC will distribute today. "Stay tuned, there will be more strong candidates making announcements in the weeks and months to come."
Thanks to a May special election victory in New York's 26th district, the number of seats that the Democratic Party need for the majority is now 24. Today's rollout includes candidates in 21 districts, including Florida state Rep. Luis Garcia, who announced Wednesday that he is taking on embattled freshman Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.). Garcia is a former Miami Beach fire chief.
Featured on the list are three former Members of Congress who announced their comeback campaigns this month: Dina Titus (Nev.), Alan Grayson (Fla.) and Bill Foster (Ill.). All three were unseated in last year's Republican wave.
Also running again are physician Manan Trivedi, who is seeking a rematch with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.); former state House Majority Leader Denny Heck in Washington state; and former Congressional aide Ed Potosnak, who is challenging Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.).
The candidates running in open seats being highlighted today include: Titus and Assembly Speaker John Oceguera in Nevada districts not yet determined; Heck, who is also waiting for lines to be drawn; Iraq War veteran Brendan Mullen in Indiana's 2nd district; Foster in Illinois' 11th district; former Congressional candidate and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth and former Illinois Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi in Illinois' 8th district; and former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez and state Sen. Eric Griego in New Mexico's 1st district.
The highlighted candidates challenging GOP incumbents include: former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack in Iowa's 4th district; businessman Paul Hirschbiel in Virginia's 2nd district; Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing in Nebraska's 2nd district; ex-Orlando police chief Val Demings and Grayson in Florida's 8th district; state Rep. Joe Miklosi in Colorado's 6th district; state Senate President Brandon Shaffer in Colorado's 4th district; Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang in California's 48th district; East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos and Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp in Illinois' 17th district; state Rep. Sal Pace in Colorado's 3rd district; Potosnak and former Edison Mayor Jun Choi in New Jersey's 7th district; retired Air Force Gen. John Douglass in Virginia's 10th district; and former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow in Wisconsin's 7th district.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay was unimpressed with the list that the DCCC is touting.
"Alan Grayson is among the DCCC's highly touted recruits? I think that says it all," Lindsay said.
In March, the DCCC highlighted five early recruits, including former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), 2010 candidates Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire and physician Ami Bera in California, Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban in Wisconsin, and California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.