Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz, chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's recruitment and candidate services, said Thursday the committee signed up 43 recruits in May and is expecting to have another 10 to 15 by the end of next month.
This is the groundwork for capturing the 24 seats necessary to win back the House, which is "doable," Schwartz said at a breakfast hosted by the Third Way think tank.
"Victory is 24," Schwartz said. "It will be geared toward 50 or 60 seats ... maybe 70 seats will be in play. But none of this is easy."
Schwartz said a few recruits cite the party's special election upset in New York's 26th district as giving them the belief that they can win. Alternatively, recruits ask her about the outside Republican groups that spent millions last cycle to help oust dozens of Democrats.
The redistricting process is making incumbents in states like California "very nervous," Schwartz said, but it's also "creating some opportunities." The uncertainty surrounding the process could cause some candidates looking to run — but waiting for lines to be drawn — to drop out later when the mapmaking is final.
It already happened in Illinois's newly drawn 11th district. Businessman John Atkinson, who had raised $500,000, opted not to run. Instead Atkinson endorsed former Rep. Bill Foster (D), who is running again after losing last year in the 14th district and being redrawn into the 11th.
In states like California and Iowa, some incumbents could face each other in primaries next year. Schwartz said the DCCC might reach out with helpful suggestions, but the decision of whether to run is left with the candidates.
"Mostly we don't get involved in the primaries," Schwartz said. "In moments when we think one is stronger than the other, we might have that conversation. If there's a district nearby where they also could live in, we'll have those kinds of conversations. But at the end of the day those are decisions made by the candidates and the incumbents."
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.