Worried by polling indicators and a dire economic climate that some observers say will result in lower Black voter turnout this year, Democrats are putting heavy focus on outreach through ramped up messaging and candidate grooming. The latest effort is from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the fundraising arm for House Democrats, as organizers announced the redeployment of resources for several solid African American Congressional candidates in key battleground states.
The effort is a bit unprecedented. Public pitching of Black Congressional candidates, particularly in battleground states, represents a new strategy for the DCCC.
It’s a refreshing shift as the fundraising outfit struggles to enhance its image amid accusations on and off Capitol Hill that it hasn’t done enough to recruit African American candidates or take existing Black Members of Congress seriously. It was less than a year ago when DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) was chided by the Congressional Black Caucus for openly diminishing their role in a March 2011 Politico interview.
“Can we win the House without the CBC? Yes. Do we want to win the House without the CBC? No,” said Israel at the time.
And tensions reemerged before the Christmas holiday when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reasserted her demands for greater fundraising from House Democrats. The DCCC noticed lack of fundraising from some Black and Latino Members as Democrats hope they can recapture the House in 2012.
Still, smarting from the March episode with CBC Members, Israel has taken aggressive steps at Black candidate recruitment, with the DCCC moving Black Congressional candidates in their competitive “Red to Blue” program for top tier campaigns.
Candidates that enter the “Red to Blue” program have surpassed fundraising, organization and infrastructure goals set by the Committee and that have “proven they will defend the middle class when elected to Congress,” according to a DCCC spokesperson.
Top candidates that have been highlighted recently for running competitive races include:
- Val Demings (FL-08) – Demings is considered to be running in the DCCC’s “top tier Red-to-Blue race.” Observers are watching this race closely as Orlando’s first female police chief is considered one of the stronger candidates to hit the electoral scene.
- Steve Horsford (NV-03) – Horsford is considered to be running in the DCCC’S “top tier Majority Makers race,” which means he’s running competitively in a district leaning Democratic.
The DCCC has also identified up and coming candidates in Ohio and Texas, including:
House Democrats appear encouraged by a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed voters would support a Democratic candidate over a Republican candidate in their district by 4 points (48 percent – 44 percent).