The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is adding four more candidates to its Jumpstart program for promising recruits, including two in heavily Republican Arkansas.

The candidates: Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt (D) and former North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays (D), running in a pair of open seats in the state. Also added: Counterterrorism specialist Bobby McKenzie (D), running against Rep. Kerry BentivolioKerry BentivolioIndiana Republican: Leaders duped me Reindeer farmer saves 'cromnibus' with yes vote High drama as .1T spending package advances by one vote MORE (R-Mich.); and Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard (D), who's running for an open seat currently held by Rep. John Runyan (R-N.J.).

The list is a first step for candidates — the strongest will later be bumped up to the DCCC's Red to Blue program.


"Heading into 2014, our candidates are exceeding expectations and laying the groundwork for strong campaigns by proving that they are problem-solvers who will put the middle class ahead of partisan ideology and restore common sense to Washington," DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "These four standout candidates are being added to the Jumpstart program because they’re committed to the right priorities, like working together to create good jobs, protect our seniors and give the middle class financial peace of mind."

Witt is a big recruit for the committee, and Belgard has had unofficial support from the DCCC since she got into the race. Hays has also had DCCC support — though they initially tried to get former Arkansas Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter (D) into the race, since Hays announcement they've made it clear they'd back him. McKenzie wasn't the DCCC's first choice but they coalesced around him after Wayne State University Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson (D) decided earlier this month not to run for the seat.

The four are the latest on the list, which now has 23 candidates.