DCCC chief: 'This House is in play'

The House Democratic campaign chief touted his party's chances of reclaiming the majority in the wake of their win in New York's special election.

Democrat Kathy Hochul won an upset victory on Tuesday, capturing a seat that was considered safe Republican territory. 

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"I fundamentally believe that the House of Representatives is in play," Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told reporters at a briefing Thursday. "And that the Democrats can win a majority in November 2012."

Israel said he wasn't guaranteeing a victory — "yet."

"I'm not saying we're going to have 100 seats in play," he said. "The victory in New York 26 is not going to make us cocky. We're going to continue to be clear-eyed and strategic and tactical. We're going to do this in real time."

Israel was bullish despite the lack of coattails past special election have produced for his party. Between 2009-2010, Democrats won three competitive special election races in Pennsylvania and New York, but were subsequently swept out of the majority last November.

"The Medicare issue was more dramatic in New York 26 than in past specials. But I think the lesson for some is the lesson we've always known: ground game. We win special elections with a superior ground game," said Israel. "The victory in New York 26 will inform our strategy, it will not be our strategy."

Democrats need 25 seats to reclaim the House.

Republicans accused their rivals of "demagoguery."

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"If Democrats want to talk about Medicare from now until Election Day, we’re happy to remind the American people that Democrats are the only ones who want it to go bankrupt and the only ones who already cut the program by $500 billion to pay for their government takeover of healthcare," said Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"But at the end of the day, Democrats are misreading the electorate if they believe that middle-class families want to hear about anything other than plans for job creation and reversing the economic disaster that President Obama and his party have created over the last three years."

Israel's briefing was also attended by Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayLawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response Public health experts raise alarm as coronavirus spreads Overnight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash MORE (Wash.).

"This has woken voters up to what the agenda is of the Republican Party," she said in reference to the Medicare debate. "The election of 2012 will be dramatically different than the election of 2010."

Murray and Israel's joint address to reporters was the latest part of the Democrats' victory lap following their win in New York. The NRCC accused them of "spiking the football 18 months before Election Day."

--Updated at 1:21 p.m.