- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The head of the House Democrats’ campaign operation scolded outside groups allied with the party Wednesday for sitting on their wallets in the final stretch of the campaigns when their candidates face “one of the toughest environments” since the Republican wave election in 2010.

“Outside groups have always played a fundamentally important role in supporting our candidates and supporting our efforts,” said Rep. Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“When you’ve got 32 races within 6 points, and you are making tactical and strategic decisions to shore up incumbents, it is frustrating that the cavalry that has always been there doesn’t seem to be there.”

Mr. Israel pleaded for Democrat-allied super PACs to rejoin the fight before the Nov. 4 election.

“My point is that we still have 20 days, and that’s an eternity for outside groups to mount up the cavalry and get them to the hill,” Mr. Israel said at a press conference at the Democratic Party headquarters in Washington.

He conceded that Democrats face a treacherous political environment due in part to President Obama’s low job-approval ratings, which have forced the party to focus on protecting incumbents rather than trying to pick up Republican-held seats to seize majority control of the chamber.

“We anticipated the worst from Day 1,” he said, noting that Democrats were fighting historical trends that inflict an average loss of 29 House seats on the part in power in the midterms.

“I do have that 29-seat loss emblazoned on my forehead,” he said.

More than twice as many Democrat-held seats are in play this year. Of the 38 closest races identified on the RealClearPolitics battleground map, 26 are held by Democrats and 12 by Republicans.

The National Republican Campaign Committee said Mr. Israel’s press conference was a sign that Democrats were bracing for widespread losses on election night, and Mr. Israel was laying the groundwork to defend the DCCC’s performance.

“Steve Israel is trying to blame anyone and everyone for his own party’s failures. Democrats aren’t losing because of outside groups. They’re not losing because of Ebola. … They’re losing because their policies are not popular,” said NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek.

Mr. Israel’s appeal for help from super PACs also ran contrary to the party’s stance on outside money.

Democratic leaders have railed against outside groups that support Republicans, even calling for a constitutional amendment to bar what they deem excessive campaign spending by individuals or groups.

Mr. Israel said the Democrats’ outside groups were necessary to counter the GOP groups, saying “we always knew the incumbents would be facing a tsunami of special interest super PAC money.”

He refused to make any predictions.

“What’s a great night is for us to be able to say that no matter what happens, we prepared, we knew what was coming, we fired on all cylinders, and our early investments kept these races competitive in what is indisputably one of the toughest environments that we have had … since 2010,” the most recent midterm election, he said.

Still, Mr. Israel didn’t rule out another GOP wave this year. “Am I fearful? No. Am I concerned? Yes,” Mr. Israel said. “Are we prepared? Yes.”

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