Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Kelly Ward touted races in Colorado’s 6th District, California’s 21st District and New Jersey’s 3rd District as three of the nation’s top races this cycle.
In California’s 21st District, national Democrats are backing former Hill staffer Amanda Renteria against Rep. David Valadao (R); in Colorado’s 6th, Rep. Mike Coffman (R) is facing former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff; and New Jersey’s 3rd District is open due to Rep. Jon Runyan’s (R) retirement, and national Democrats are backing Burlington County freeholder Aimee Belgard for the seat.
In an interview with the Harvard Institute of Politics, Ward said there were 38 districts the committee considers top offensive targets.
“When we think about the House landscape for 2014, we look at a couple of things, and the first thing we look at is whether the district is winnable, and then we look at the candidate and whether that candidate can win the district,” she said.
There are 18 districts won by Obama and held by a Republican, and 20 more that Obama nearly won with a Republican incumbent, that Democrats are looking at as top targets.
Ward was enthusiastic about the three races she mentioned. Renteria, she said, is a “really fantastic candidate” with a compelling background, noting she attended Stanford and Harvard and was the first Latina chief of staff on the Hill.
“Just a really great background contrasted with the Republican incumbent who has never really had a tough race and is, for a number of reasons, out of touch with that district. So, that’s a really kind of compelling and interesting race that we can win with a great candidate,” she said.
Renteria is, however, facing another Democrat vying for the seat who caused a primary upset last time.
In Colorado’s 6th, Ward said redistricting has made that race particularly competitive for Democrats.
“This is your sort of quintessential example of a district, where the district changed with redistricting, and the incumbent is now sort of out of touch and out of step with a very moderate district, and is having to kind of figure out how to reorient himself and is now admittedly fully out of touch with the new district,” she said.
In New Jersey’s 3rd District, Ward touted the competitive GOP primary there and a strong Democratic candidate, and said “the open seat really puts it in play for us.”
National Democrats are backing Belgard, but she, too, has a primary challenger.
Ward said while she believes Democrats are on the right side on ObamaCare, and GOP efforts to repeal the law could “play out in a way that is not favorable to the Republicans;” ObamaCare won’t be the defining issue of the midterms.
“This election is really going to be about, whose side are you on? And are you on the side of the middle class, are you on the side of really helping people with the challenges that they’re facing in their daily lives?” she said.
“Ultimately, when you have a debate about whose side you’re on and the economic issues that are reflective of what people need, that’s the Democratic agenda, not the Republican agenda.”
— This piece was updated at 4 p.m.