DCCC announces first Red-to-Blue candidates

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced its inaugural round of “Red-to-Blue” districts on Monday, highlighting its top pickup opportunities for the party.

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The committee named 16 candidates to the program, and three more districts with multiple Democratic contenders that the party has high hopes of winning. Two of those districts are open seat contests that are currently held by a Democrat. 

The priority races are short of the 17 Democrats need to win in order to regain control of the House, an uphill battle especially in a midterm year with turnout more favorable to Republicans. 

But the DCCC says these candidates are in prime positions to win these often tough districts, and note they will be adding more districts to the list. Candidates earn the designation by exceeding fundraising, organization and infrastructure goals set by the committee, and the program offers the candidates extra financial, communications, strategic and grassroots support from the DCCC.

Of the 16 candidates in the first round of Red-to-Blue districts, 10 are women — an historically high portion of the list that the committee argues is evidence of the Democratic Party’s diversity in contrast to the GOP's.

Another 12 candidates were highlighted as running in “emerging races,” and four districts named “emerging districts,” where the committee said candidates are on track to put the districts into play. Notably, Democrat Aaron Woolf, running in a district held by retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, was named an “emerging race,” indicating the party has an uphill battle to fight to keep the seat.

Notably, a number of top recruits for the DCCC, including Sean Eldridge, challenging Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.); James Lee Witt, running for Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) seat; and Michael Eggman, challenging Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), only received the “emerging races” designation as well.

“There’s no question – these candidates are on the side of average Americans, and they’ve shown throughout their careers that they’ll work together to help make the middle class more financially secure and solve our problems – the exact antidote to the flawed priorities of this broken Republican Congress,” said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) in a release announcing the candidates. “These candidates earned their places in our battle-tested program because of their hard work and the competitive nature of their districts, and we will continue to work with them to build and execute winning campaigns.”

The full list of Red-to-Blue candidates follows:

AR-02 – Patrick Henry Hays
CA-21 – Amanda Renteria
CO-06 – Andrew Romanoff
FL-02 – Gwen Graham
IA-03 – Staci Appel
IL-13 – Ann Callis
MI-01 – Jerry Cannon
MI-07 – Pam Byrnes
MT-AL – John Lewis
NM-02 – Roxanne Lara
NV-03: Erin Bilbray
NJ-03 – Aimee Belgard
NY-04 – Kathleen Rice
NY-11 – Domenic Recchia
NY-23 – Martha Robertson
VA-10 – John Foust

Red-to-Blue districts:

CA-31
IA-01
ME-02

Emerging Races:

AR-01 – Jackie McPherson
AR-04 – James Lee Witt
CA-10 – Michael Eggman
CA-25 – Lee Rogers
IA-04 – Jim Mowrer
NJ-02 – Bill Hughes
NY-19 – Sean Eldridge
NY-21 – Aaron Woolf
OH-06 – Jennifer Garrison
OH-14 – Michael Wager
VA-02 – Suzanne Patrick
WV-02 – Nick Casey

Emerging Districts:

MI-11
NC-02
PA-06
PA-08