From NBC's Mark Murray
At his first pen-and-pad session with reporters since becoming the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, New York Rep. Steve Israel (D) was blunt.
"Being in the minority sucks."
But he was equally blunt that being in the minority gives the Democrats plenty of opportunities for playing offense in next year's House races. "I have the best job in Washington," Israel said, adding that he wakes up every morning thinking how Democrats can pick up the net 25 seats they need to regain the majority in 2012.
"We have sprung out of a defensive crouch," Israel told reporters. In particular, Democrats say they are targeting 14 GOP-held districts that John Kerry (in 2004) and Barack Obama (in 2008) carried, in addition to another 47 districts that Obama won -- but Kerry didn't -- in the last presidential contest.
Israel also touted that the DCCC raised $4.4 million in January -- compared with the $2.7 in raised in Jan. 2007 (after Dems had regained the majority in the House), the $3.7 million in Jan. 2008, the $3.5 million in Jan. 2009, and the $4.7 million in Jan. 2010. "We are on a very aggressive fundraising pace."
As for the redistricting that will take place this year, the congressman said that Democrats would be better off than Republicans and some pundits predicted earlier. For example, he said that Democrats would likely split Texas' four new congressional seats, with two of the seats becoming solid GOP seats and two becoming solid Dem ones. "It is going to be more neutral than what the Republicans said."
Paul Lindsay, spokesman at the National Republican Congressional Committee, responded, “Steve Israel and his giant-sized ego will have a hard time winning anything until they admit why their party was rebuked by voters in the first place. Judging by their continued support for massive government spending, it’s obvious that House Democrats have a long way to go before accomplishing their goal of returning Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker’s chair.”