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Crowley said the PAC’s efforts will help the party win the 25 seats needed to take back the majority in November. In an interview, he said, “I’m very excited about our prospects,” in part because of the recruitment of moderate, pro-business Members who fit the New Democrat mold.
“I don’t think there’s any question that our profile will be uplifted,” Crowley said of the coalition that he has chaired since 2009. “I think we have an awful lot of talent to offer to our general Caucus. And the one thing I think we’re focused on is this isn’t about the New Dems; this is about the Democratic Caucus. And when we win, we’ll be in the position to govern.”
Observers note that Crowley is interested in House leadership positions, and growing the coalition’s ranks helps line up support for such a run. DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) are former New Democrats.
“I think Joe Crowley is going to get high marks for bringing the coalition to where it is today — basically in recovering mode from the last cycle and making sure it stayed critical and relevant,” one Democratic lobbyist said.
If Democrats can win even a slim majority in 2012, “I think Crowley’s going to get credit for all of that. That can help him.”
Each of the nine districts that are home to New Democrat-backed candidates falls under the DCCC’s Red to Blue program and is considered crucial in the party’s efforts to win the majority. Of those nine candidates, Garagiola and Schneider are facing contentious primaries.
Although party leaders don’t always like getting into messy primary fights, the New Democrats saw a pickup opportunity not just for the party but for their coalition.
The coalition’s PAC will likely back more candidates, but aides say it is waiting for more state maps to be finalized before making further announcements. Any future endorsements would likely match the first tranche of moderate, pro-business types who fall under the New Democrats’ political ideology.
“They are definitely trying to make themselves more cohesive and get people who are willing to vote pro-business,” a senior Democratic aide said, adding that the coalition could use more moderates in its ranks. “It would be a good thing for New Dems to do strategically, to have someone interested in growing the moderate brand.”
Correction, Feb. 14
A previous version of this story listed Rep. Jared Polis as the chairman of the New Democrats' PAC. Polis is chairman of the Keystone group, a subset of the PAC.