House Democrats have formally appointed Rep. Steve Israel (NY) to head their campaign efforts next year. The move has been expected for weeks and puts Israel — a one-time Blue Dog — in charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as at the head of rebuilding their shellacked majority in the face of a resurgent GOP.
“Congressman Israel has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in recruiting candidates, in attracting resources, and in communicating core Democratic values for middle class and working families,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will head the House Democrats as Minority Leader in the next Congress, said in a statement. “In his new role as DCCC Chairman, his practical experience in running and winning in difficult districts will provide critical leadership for Democrats to regain the majority in 2012.”Rebuilding the Democratic House majority after the GOP’s 60+ seat sweep on Nov. 2 will be a tall order. Pelosi has suggested she intends to dig in on progressive partisanship, presenting a stark choice with the tea party-fueled House Republican majority that will fight to maintain its dominance in an election where President Obama will be at the top of the ballot.
Some Democrats in the House have grumbled that a Pelosi-led House caucus will present an easy target for Republicans looking to hold onto and perhaps expand their majority in two years. Pelosi and her allies say House Democrats have nothing to apologize for and claim that the more progressive policy agenda that marked the last Congress will be the best option for Congressional Democrats when they face the voters in 2012.
It is in this environment that Israel will lead the DCCC in recruiting, fundraising and campaigning over the next two years. He takes over from Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who led the DCCC’s efforts this year.
In other caucus business tonight, Democrats chose Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY) to be their ranking member on the House Rules Committee. Slaughter chairs the powerful committee in the current Democratically-controlled Congress.