Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) is not exactly vowing to win back the House in 2012, but he still insists “the House will be in play” next year.
Yet Israel is inheriting a mess as he takes over the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this cycle. The DCCC is nearly $20 million in debt, the electoral map may be even more daunting in 2012 after redistricting, and fundraising even tougher as the party competes for money during a presidential election cycle.
The DCCC has slightly more than $3 million cash on hand, and it now will have to raise funds to pay off its huge debt with Democrats in the minority. That presents a significant disadvantage compared with the past four years when Democrats held a fundraising edge.
In addition, 19 House Democrats on Wednesday publicly opposed the election of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as speaker, a stunning rejection of her leadership that is doubly important on the political side because Pelosi is, by far, the biggest draw for the DCCC.
Pelosi also remains highly unpopular with independents nationwide, although she is still a favorite of the Democratic base and has begun planning a wide-ranging fundraising schedule for the year, according to Democratic insiders.
Redistricting following the 2010 census will give Republicans additional pickup opportunities next year. In addition, Democratic Party affiliation is down significantly from 2008, and progressive voters remain wary of President Barack Obama and the party as a whole.
Israel is going to have to compete for Democratic donors with both the Obama-Biden reelection campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where Democrats are in jeopardy of losing their smaller majority. (Continues)