Rep. Steve Israel to head DCCC

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) has been tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee next cycle. 

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The five-term congressman replaces Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who held the post for two cycles but presided over massive Democratic losses in 2010. 

In a statement, Pelosi said Israel has "demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in recruiting candidates, in attracting resources, and in communicating core Democratic values for middle class and working families." 

Over the past week, the speculation on who would succeed Van Hollen as head of the committee centered largely on Israel. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) were also in the mix.

Israel takes the helm of a committee the faces what could be another challenging cycle for Democrats. One of his toughest tasks will be finding top recruits for the dozens of conservative-leaning districts the party lost this past fall.  

With more than 60 newly elected Republicans, at least the DCCC will have plenty of targets to choose from in trying to win back some House seats in 2012.

In an internal DCCC memo circulated Thursday, Van Hollen defended the committee's strategic approach and argued that the midterm results could have been even worse for Democrats. But he also revealed that the committee ends the year with some $17 million in debt.  

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDemocrats race to link GOP incumbents to Trump Mellman: Give positive a chance Koch network super-PAC launches ad buys in Wisconsin, Nevada MORE (D-Nev.) has yet to find a new chairman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetReid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell GOP Senate candidate wins right to be on Colorado ballot EPA ozone rule looms large in swing state MORE (D-Colo.) was thought to be the top choice before he turned the post down, and now Reid is reportedly working to convince Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayRyan goes all-in on Puerto Rico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika MORE (D-Wash.) to chair the DSCC again.   

-Updated at 4:24 p.m.

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