Safe House incumbents need to pay their DCCC dues

Representative Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has appointed two out of the DCCC's three vice chairs. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is the DCCC Vice Chair for incumbent retention. Bruce Braley of Iowa will be responsible for "offensive efforts including recruitment, money, and training."

The third vice chair, yet to be named, "will seek to increase House member participation in DCCC efforts," which presumably means getting more safe Democratic incumbents to pay their DCCC dues.

That's going to be a big job, since the DCCC ended the 2008 campaign some $21 million in debt.

The debt has reportedly been reduced to $13 million, with the help of a $3.5 million transfer from Barack Obama's presidential campaign. But that is still a large debt, especially since Democrats have a lot of one-term and two-term representatives to defend in 2010, which will probably be a less favorable political environment for the party.

According to Politico,

Democrats are gearing up for a tougher, more defensive cycle. While Democrats want to take advantage of Obama's bank account, party officials are anxious about getting out of the red and are telling members and donors to pay up -- quickly.

Democratic leaders put the squeeze on last month, asking each member in a memo for $35,000 before Christmas. The memo also listed, by name, those who had paid their committee dues and those who hadn't.

Shortly before the election, Chris Bowers spearheaded an effort to put grassroots pressure on safe Democratic incumbents who had not paid their DCCC dues. We all have a lot on our plate this year, and Bowers is recovering from a broken arm, but the netroots need to assist the DCCC vice chair for member participation once that person has been named. We should not wait until a few weeks before the 2010 election to start pressuring incumbents who are delinquent on DCCC dues. The sooner the DCCC retires its debt, the easier it will be to recruit strong challengers and build a healthy bank balance for the next campaign.

If you are willing to help with this effort in any way (such as compiling a spreadsheet showing who has not paid and how to contact those representatives), please post a comment in this thread.

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Van Hollen names Braley Vice Chair of DCCC

Bruce Braley (IA-01) was elected to Congress in 2006 with the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue" program. In 2008 he helped manage the DCCC's Red to Blue efforts. For the next election cycle, he's been promoted again:

The DCCC today named the second of its three Vice Chairs - Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) will serve as Vice Chair for candidate services, responsible for the DCCC's offensive efforts including recruitment, money, and training.  

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen said, "The DCCC will stay aggressive this cycle and continue to challenge Republicans who are out of step with their districts.  As a former chair and former member of the Red to Blue program, Bruce Braley knows first hand what it takes to be a successful candidate; his battle tested leadership will be a real asset to our candidates facing tough elections."

Congressman Bruce Braley brings his experience as chair of the DCCC's successful and effective 2008 Red to Blue Program and as a former member of the Red to Blue Program.

Vice Chair Bruce Braley said, "I'm looking forward to continuing my work at the DCCC in this new leadership role.  It's critical for us to continue assisting our candidates with the money, messaging and mobilization they will need to get elected in the 2010 election cycle.  I will work hard to help our candidates win their races."

Congressman Bruce Braley will serve as Vice Chair for candidate services.  The DCCC's candidate services include recruiting, money, and training.  A Vice Chair focusing on Member participation will be named at a later date.

Last month, Van Hollen named Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida the DCCC Vice Chair for incumbent retention. Given her refusal to endorse three Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents in south Florida, it was appropriate for Van Hollen to remove her from a leadership role in the Red to Blue program.

The third vice chair "will seek to increase House member participation in DCCC efforts," which presumably means getting more safe Democratic incumbents to pay their DCCC dues.

So Braley's niche will be finding and capitalizing on opportunities to pick up Republican-held seats. 2010 is likely to be a more challenging environment for Democratic candidates than the past two cycles, but it's good to know the DCCC is planning to remain on offense as well. We have a chance to achieve a political realignment, given the Democratic advantages with certain demographic groups in recent elections. Building on our success in 2006 and 2008 will require the DCCC to do more than protect our own vulnerable incumbents.

Good luck to Representative Braley in his new role. He'll be quite busy the next couple of years, with a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a Populist Caucus to lead.

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Van Hollen to Continue at Helm of DCCC

For the first time in a decade, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will have a two-term chairman. Chris Cillizza has the scoop:

After bringing at least two dozen new Democrats to the House in Tuesday's election, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) has agreed to try to duplicate that achievement in 2010 as chair of the caucus's campaign arm. He also will take on an added role, coordinating policy decisions between the House and President-elect Barack Obama's administration.

[...]

While Van Hollen will continue with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2010 election cycle, it is not yet clear whether the committee's senior staff will also remain.

The 2010 cycle will be more difficult for Chris Van Hollen than was the 2008 cycle. Traditionally, the party in control of the White House loses seats in the House of Representatives during midterm elections (though this was notably not the case in 2002 or 1998). However, judging by Van Hollen's performance thus far as DCCC chair, House Democrats clearly have an able leader for their electoral efforts.

Since taking over the reins of the DCCC last year, Van Hollen oversaw roughly two dozen gains for his caucus, an impressive achievement considering the large gains posted by Democrats the previous cycle. This success came both from strong recruiting efforts and from a robust fundraising organization that brought in significantly more campaign cash than did the National Republican Congressional Committee.

And looking forward, although there is reason to believe that the 2010 cycle will be rough for House Democrats, there are factors that should help the party, as well. For one, even though it is likely that House Republicans will pick up seats next fall, there isn't a whole lot of reason to believe that they would be able to reclaim control over the chamber. As a result, institutional donors aren't likely to begin to shift back their support from the Democratic Party to the GOP for fear of alienating the party in power, which is likely to maintain power. Moreover, Republican recruitment was simply abysmal this cycle, and given the likelihood that the party will remain in the minority for some time to come, as well as the fact that Republicans did not do a great job in state legislative and other down ticket races this fall, it's very possible that recruitment isn't going to be significantly better this time around.

So Van Hollen clearly has his work cut out for him -- but that doesn't mean I'd count him out.

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DCCC Swamping the NRCC in Independent Expenditures

The Club for Growth (and believe you me, I don't love linking to them) makes an astonishing find (get the pure numbers here from Swing State Project):

I added up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spending for Monday. They spent $14.9 million. $14,498,252.55 to be exact.

To put this number into further perspective, that is more in ONE DAY than the National Republican Campaign Committee has spent the WHOLE election cycle on IEs. $14,463,380 to be exact.

First Read wrote about this earlier this week, and I think it bears repeating in light of the massive spending discrepancies between the Democrats' and the Republicans' House campaign arms: We could potentially see significantly more surprise winners on election night than we did even two years ago, when the Democrats swept into power in the House.

Think about it. In 2006, there were perhaps three surprise winners for the Democrats -- Dave Loebsack in Iowa, Nancy Boyda in Kansas, and Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire. Sure, there were some other almost surprise winners that hadn't gotten the full attention of the race watchers, both in the media and on Capitol Hill, candidates like Larry Kissell in North Carolina and Gary Trauner in Wyoming. But for the most part, the Democrats who won in 2006 were candidates on the radar.

Now, however, the race is so wide open, there were so many GOP retirements, and the Democrats have so much more money than the Republicans that we really could see a sea of Carol Shea-Porters. All the more reason, then, to pay heed to the calls from Markos and others not to leave anything anything in reserve but rather to make it a real sprint to the finish line.

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Obama Considers Spreading the Wealth

No, this is not an affirmation of the absurd attacks leveled by John McCain at Barack Obama regarding socialism.

Last month, Josh noted that Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill asked the Obama campaign to share some of its money to help aid the party's efforts to build a larger congressional majority, a request that the campaign denied -- at least at the time. Now, according to The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk, the Obama campaign is considering reversing course in the wake of the greatest grassroots fundraising month in the history of American politics and contributing to growing the Democratic ranks in Congress.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama announced yesterday that he raised more than $150 million in September, obliterating previous fundraising records and giving him an enormous tactical advantage over Republican Sen. John McCain in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

With tens of millions more to spend than McCain, Obama has gone on the offensive in dozens of states, including several once considered long shots, such as North Carolina, Virginia and Missouri. He is running three television ads to every one aired by McCain, and he has built a massive operation to reach voters on Election Day.

The campaign has raised so much money that it is considering passing some along to Democratic Party committees to try to help grow the party's majorities in Congress, according to a campaign source. [emphasis added]

To me this seems like a no-brainer. While it was not yet clear a month ago what the trajectory of the election would be, whether Obama would really have enough money to compete everywhere he wanted to or if he would have real limits to his resources, by now it seems apparent that the campaign can afford to allocate some of the large amounts of money contributed by its grassroots supporters towards electing more and better Democrats -- an effort that could result in tangible benefits (larger Democratic majorities, easing the flow of legislation through Congress) in the event of an Obama victory. Though Obama may be post-partisan in some regards, he is certainly a party-builder in others.

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