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DCCC Chairman Israel: Dem House takeover 'in sight'

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Democrats are “in sight” of taking over the Republican-controlled House after the November elections, says Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, who contends that up to 75 GOP-held seats are in play this year.

“We’ve gone from deep within our own 20-yard line, and we have moved the ball to their 20-yard line. The goal is in sight,” said Mr. Israel at a Thursday breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

“It’s razor-close, and the razor’s going to be sharpened and dulled by a whole bunch of different factors.”

Mr. Israel disputed a prediction made by his counterpart, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a day earlier at a Monitor event, when he said his party would pick up seats in November.

“If chest-thumping wins elections, God bless him. I don’t think chest-thumping wins elections,” said Mr. Israel, who has served a portion of Long Island, N.Y., in the House since 2001.

Republicans enjoy a 242 to 190 advantage in the House. If Democrats win upcoming special elections for three vacant seats they previously held, they’ll need to pick up 25 more in the November general contests to take control. Many election handicappers expect Democrats to gain five to 15 seats.

Mr. Israel, whose committee is in charge of fundraising and candidate recruiting for House Democrats, says that of the 46 congressional districts nationwide that voted for President Obama in 2008 and have a Republican representative, Democrats conservatively should win 15, Mr. Israel said.

He added that of an addition 18 districts districts that voted for Mr. Obama and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, Democrats should win 12, giving the party a 27-seat pickup and control of the House — if they hold all of the seats they currently control.

“On offense, we’re in good shape. What that means is we don’t have a big margin of error,” he said.

Of the 15 or so Democratic “front line” districts — Republican-leaning districts with an incumbent Democrat — Mr. Israel says he won’t concede a single one.

“If they can win in 2010 they should be OK in 2012,” he said.

“The bottom line, this thing is a blender. You throw in the Kerry Republican districts, you throw in the Obama Republican districts, you throw in the front-liners, you sprinkle it with a little bit of pessimism, you press play and the House is in play. This thing is in range.”

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