The leaders of Democrats' campaign committees said Thursday they wouldn't get "cocky" about their victory in New York's 26th Congressional district but promised to keep attacking Republicans over Medicare.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) spoke to reporters about their plans, attempting to use Rep.-elect Kathy Hochul's win to gain momentum without sounding overly optimistic.
"Today I can tell you that I fundamentally believe that the House of Representatives is in play," Israel said during a briefing at the Democratic National Committee. He said Hochul's victory doesn't mean Democrats would win back the 24 seats necessary to recapture the House in 2012, "yet." He said the Tuesday special election would not make Democrats "cocky."
"The victory in New York 26 will inform our strategy," Israel told reporters. "It will not be our strategy." Israel adopted a tone similar to John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, promising that, "We will take the fight to those districts, no matter how high the odds, no matter how steep the climb. We will, as Democrats, take the fight almost anywhere in America to protect Medicare: East Coast, West Coast, Lake Eerie."
Israel hammered home three points: Democrats are recruiting good candidates, the DCCC is out-raising the National Republican Congressional Committee even though the GOP is in the majority and the party apparatus for mobilization is strong, which he called "a critical element for taking the House back." Israel told reporters that earlier this month 43 recruits visited Washington. After Hochul's win, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) "made 50 calls to our top 50 recruits," he said.
He explained that, "Republicans spent $3.4 million to lose on the air. Kathy Hochul and Democrats beat them on the ground. We won New York 26 in good old-fashioned street campaigning and mobilization." Israel also noted the importance of independent voters in the Hochul race and said that independents were part of the reason he was saying the House was in play.
Murray criticized the GOP for saying they would focus on jobs and the economy but instead focusing on "changing Medicare as we know it today in order to protect the wealthiest Americans and tax cut subsidies for oil companies."
But it's far too early to know if that narrative will retain potency with voters through Election Day.
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.