Representative Steve Israel of New York, the new head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, holds conference calls at least once a month with a group of Capitol Hill alums, which includes about 90 percent of the Democrats who lost their re-election in 2010 and those who retired.
They trade notes on messaging, public relations, Washington happenings and – perhaps most importantly – their districts, now controlled by Republicans. Mr. Israel is working hard to get several of those ousted members, like Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota, to run again. (She hasn’t committed.)
Democrats have zeroed in on 14 must-win seats in 8 states – the 14 districts that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and President Obama in 2008, but fell into Republican hands in 2010. Many of those regions will also be the focus of Mr. Obama’s re-election effort, said Mr. Israel, who is in constant contact with president’s political team. Democrats will devote the most attention to Pennsylvania, where a total of five members are on their target list.