Rep. Steve Israel will serve as the new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this afternoon.
The New York Congressman, who will serve his sixth term in the 112th Congress, will replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) following House Democrats’ worst cycle in more than 70 years. To date, Republicans have picked up 61 seats in the next Congress, and more are possible as outstanding races are called.
Israel is no stranger to the DCCC, having previously served as the DCCC’s recruitment chair. While he was rumored to be a leading candidate for weeks, Pelosi waited to announce her selection until Friday, two days after House Democrats elected her to serve as House Minority Leader in the new Congress.
“Congressman Israel knows how to win in tough districts. He replaced a formidable Republican incumbent in 2000 and has worked every day since then to strengthen Democrats across the country,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Steve Israel has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in recruiting candidates, in attracting resources, and in communicating core Democratic values for middle class and working families. As DCCC Chairman, Congressman Israel’s practical experience in running and winning in difficult districts will provide critical leadership for Democrats to regain the majority in 2012.”
Israel had been a vocal Pelosi supporter following the Election Day disaster. While she faced heated criticism among Republicans and Democrats for running for Minority Leader, top Israel staffers circulated various news articles to the Caucus demonstrating the Speaker’s leadership in recent weeks.
In May 2009, Israel was talked out of running for the Senate, just days before he was set to announce his bid to challenge appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D). President Barack Obama intervened personally to get Israel to step aside.
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.