The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is naming 11 candidates Wednesday in the first round of its Red to Blue program, which highlights strong Democratic recruits.
The list of 11 candidates, obtained first by Roll Call, includes recruits running in 10 competitive Republican-held seats and in an open seat Democrats are hoping to keep blue.
Being named to Red to Blue opens doors for candidates who can tout their inclusion on the list to donors. Candidates also benefit from guidance and staff resources from the DCCC, which has been in contact with all Democratic House candidates who have been willing to collaborate and communicate with the committee this year.
The DCCC evaluates candidates’ fundraising, grass-roots engagement, local support, ties to the community and campaign infrastructure when deciding who makes the cut for the program.
This cycle’s first round comes earlier than the previous cycle when the first 16 candidates were named in early February of the on-year. Additional rounds of Red to Blue candidates for 2018 will be rolled out more frequently and in more targeted batches than in previous election cycles.
Watch: House and Senate Battlegrounds Taking Shape for 2018
“The House is in play in 2018 and incredible Democratic challengers are stepping up to run across the largest offensive battlefield in a decade,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. The DCCC expanded its target list last week to 91 GOP-held seats.
“These candidates have their own unique experiences rooted in these districts, but what they all have in common are records of service to their communities and our country,” Luján added.
The DCCC on Wednesday is also naming certain districts to two additional lists — Majority Makers and True Blue.
Red to Blue candidates
Arizona’s 2nd District: Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who vacated the 1st District to run for Senate in 2016, is now running in what could be an open seat if GOP Rep. Martha McSally jumps into the Senate race. Kirkpatrick ended the third quarter with $269,000.
Race Rating: Toss-up
Colorado’s 6th District: Jason Crow, a retired Army Ranger, is challenging GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, a perennial Democratic target who’s proved hard to knock off. Crow had $393,000 in the bank.
Race Rating: Tilts Republican
Iowa’s 1st District: State Rep. Abby Finkenauer has won strong labor support and the backing of EMILY’s List in her quest to take on second-term GOP Rep. Rod Blum. She had $169,000 in the bank.
Illinois’ 12 District: Brendan Kelly, the St. Clair County state’s attorney, is considered a top Democratic recruit against second-term GOP Rep. Mike Bost. Kelly had $305,000 in the bank.
Kansas’ 2nd District: Paul Davis, the former state House minority leader, carried the district when he ran for governor in 2014 against Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Now he’s vying for the open seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins. He had $344,000 cash on hand.
Michigan’s 8th District: Elissa Slotkin, a former assistant secretary of Defense and a CIA analyst, is challenging second-term GOP Rep Mike Bishop. She had $377,000 in the bank.
Minnesota’s 2nd District: Angie Craig, the 2016 nominee, is back for a rematch against freshman GOP Rep. Jason Lewis, who narrowly defeated her last fall. Lewis ranks second on Roll Call’s list of the 10 most vulnerable House incumbents. Craig ended the third quarter with $2,500 in the bank, leftover from her 2016 campaign.
Race Rating: Toss-up
North Carolina’s 9th District: Dan McCready, a solar energy financier and Marine veteran, is trying to take on third-term GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger, who faces a serious primary threat. McCready had $700,000 in the bank.
Race Rating: Likely Republican
Nevada’s 3rd District: Susie Lee, a philanthropist who finished third in the 2016 primary for the 4th District, is now running for the open seat Rep. Jacky Rosen is vacating to run for Senate. She has support from EMILY’s List and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. She had $308,000 in the bank.
Race Rating: Tilts Democratic
New York’s 22nd District: Anthony Brindisi, a state assemblyman, has generated lots of excitement from Democrats who think he’s their best shot to unseat freshman GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney. Brindisi had $399,000 in the bank.
Race Rating: Tilts Republican
Pennsylvania’s 6th District: Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran, is trying to take on second-term GOP Rep. Ryan A. Costello, who won re-election last year despite Hillary Clinton carrying his district. Houlahan, also a former executive of an athletic wear company, had $662,000 in the bank.
Majority Maker districts
These 83 districts are the remaining GOP-held seats the DCCC is targeting, plus several competitive open seats currently held by Democrats, such as New Hampshire’s 1st District and Minnesota’s 1st District. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates both of those races Toss-ups.
True Blue districts
These eight open seats are currently held by Democratic members and are expected to remain in Democratic hands. All eight races are rated Solid Democratic by Inside Elections. They include Arizona’s 9th District, where the DCCC is listing Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Colorado’s 2nd District, Hawaii’s 1st District, Massachusetts’ 3rd District, Maryland’s 6th District, New Mexico’s 1st District, Texas’ 16th District, where the committee is listing El Paso Judge Veronica Escobar, and Texas’ 29th District.