New York Congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, today announced that Ventura County's new 26th District is one of 19 nationwide his party has designated as "red-to-blue districts" that will be targeted as part of a strategy to regain control of House of Representatives.
"The seat was already a tossup, but the retirement of Elton Gallegly makes it even more competitive," Israel said in a conference call with reporters.
He said the DCCC will remain "agnostic" in the primary, but that if the Democratic candidate who prevails in the primary meets established benchmarks for fundraising and campaign mobilization he will be placed on a national priority list for funding from Democratic contributors.
Israel said the creation of new, competitive districts in the 2011 redistricting plan will likely result in at least four Democratic pickups in 2012. "Our chances of taking the House back largely depend on California," he said.
As a sign that Republicans are taking the new district just as seriously, Sen. Tony Strickland today announced that he raised $317,915 in a single day after launching his campaign on Tuesday. Strickland had a similar amount in his campaign committee for re-election to the state Senate, but none of that money could be transferred to his new federal committee. He said he returned much of the money from his state account to donors, but it was not immediately clear how many of them then turned around and wrote new checks to his congressional campaign.