The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will treat 2014 as a “referendum on … tea party extremism,” DCCC Chair Steve Israel said Wednesday.
In a briefing for reporters “and allies” on 2014 recruitment, Israel said the DCCC planned to put between 55 and 60 seats into play next cycle, in an attempt to win the 17 seats necessary to retake the majority in the House of Representatives.
“Look, 2012 was a referendum on President [Barack] Obama and Governor [Mitt] Romney. 2014 will be a referendum about one thing: tea party extremism,” Israel said. “That’s the year. That’s the campaign. That’s the cycle. Do you think these tea party extremists are making life better for you … or is solutions or progress a better deal for you?”
He cited opportunities for pick-ups in some districts where Democrats have historically done better in midterm elections. He also said they were looking to win seats in Florida and Texas, where an ongoing redistricting process made recruitment difficult last cycle. Now that redistricting is done there, Israel said they expected to pick up “one seat, maybe two” in Texas and “two, maybe three” in Florida.
A key, he said, was starting early.
“We will win in 2014 in 2013,” he said.
In fact, the New York congressman began recruiting in 2012, calling up potential 2014 candidates on election night. He also called up candidates who had narrowly lost, and who he believed would be strong candidates in 2014. One such candidate was Val Demings, who lost to Florida Rep. Dan Webster by just over three percentage points.
President Obama has committed to be involved with the DCCC’s effort to win back the House, Israel said, and stressed they were in a “very good place with the president’s commitment,” and that Obama had “asked us to keep him apprised of some of our recruiting priorities.”
Israel was cautious in predicting whether or not Democrats would take back the House in 2014.
“I’ll let you know in a year whether we’re going to be north of south of 17 seats,” he said. “Right now I’m spending all my time, and we’re spending all of our time being aggressive and operational and putting together all of the elements that will be necessary to put it in play.”