DCCC Is Growing Its ‘Red to Blue’

Posted June 17, 2008 at 5:00pm

In a sign that House Democrats are increasingly optimistic that this will be another wave election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today is set to announce that 14 more candidates will be added to its “Red to Blue” program.

Red to Blue, a fundraising and infrastructure program focused on flipping Republican-held House seats, now includes 37 candidates, although some in this latest group of 14 had previously been revealed in piecemeal fashion by the DCCC. Also today, the DCCC will unveil a list of 20 candidates who could be on pace to qualify for Red to Blue in the near future.

“The candidates for change being named to the DCCC Red to Blue program are running strong campaigns and are committed to making things easier for middle class families in their districts,” DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said in a statement.

In the previous cycle, Red to Blue raised $22.6 million for 56 Democratic House challenger candidates, an average of nearly $404,000 per campaign. Red to Blue is also credited by the DCCC with ensuring that the candidates who participated ran competent campaigns capable of capitalizing on a favorable political environment.

The National Republican Congressional Committee dismissed the latest additions to Red to Blue as weak candidates.

“The DCCC is now trotting out their B-list candidates for the sake of landing a cheap press hit,” NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said. “The truth of the matter is that many of these very same candidates have been running for months, but had been rejected for admittance into the Red to Blue program because Chris Van Hollen and the DCCC doubted their viability.”

Democrats remain confident that the DCCC’s fundraising advantage over the NRCC — the DCCC finished April with $45.2 million on hand, while the NRCC had $6.7 million — as well as the political advantages on issues and at the top of the presidential ticket will help generate big House gains in November.

Several of the 14 new Red to Blue candidates are running in party primaries, so their inclusion on the list seems to contradict the DCCC’s official policy of staying neutral in primaries. Spain chided Van Hollen for officially declining to endorse in primaries while simultaneously including candidates running in primaries in Red to Blue.

Among the latest Red to Blue additions who face primary opposition are Caddo Parish District Attorney Paul Carmouche, running in Louisiana’s 4th district; former state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona’s 1st); New York City Councilman Michael McMahon (New York’s 13th); and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Dina Titus (Nevada’s 3rd).

This latest slate of Red to Blue candidates include former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (Alaska’s at-large); Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly (Virginia’s 11th); Miami-Dade County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia (Florida’s 25th); former Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich (New Mexico’s 1st); Queen Anne County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil (Maryland’s 1st); attorney Bob Lord (Arizona’s 3rd); former Senate aide Betsy Markey (Colorado’s 4th); ex-Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez (Florida’s 21st); businessman Glenn Nye (Virginia’s 2nd); and former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague (New Mexico’s 2nd).

Among the 20 Democratic candidates on the Red to Blue watch list are former Nevada Democratic Party Chairwoman Jill Derby, who is in a rematch with Rep. Dean Heller (R) in Nevada’s 2nd district; attorney Nick Leibham, who is challenging Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) in California’s 50th; and wind energy executive Michael Skelly, who is challenging Rep. John Culberson (R) in Texas’ 7th.

Van Hollen said the Red to Blue program is integral to the DCCC’s 2008 effort.

“With less than five months to make their case for change to voters in their districts, the Red to Blue program will give these candidates the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November,” he said.