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Steve Israel ‘pretty comfortable’ Rahall and Barrow won’t bolt for Senate

Israel wrote a memo to his fellow lawmakers Friday. | AP Photo Read more: DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (AP)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York told reporters Wednesday that he is confident that conservative Democratic Reps. John Barrow of Georgia and Nick Rahall of West Virginia will run for reelection next year, even as they have been mentioned as attractive candidates for open Senate seats.

"I'm confident not only because I believe their path to victory in the House is secure, but also based on my own personal experience," Israel said. "I too believed that I would be a senator for a short period of time. And then the deeper I got, the more I fell back in love with the House of Representatives. So I can speak from personal perspective here. I'm pretty comfortable they'll continue to offer solutions in the House of Representatives."

If either Barrow or Rahall left to run for the Senate, Democrats would be in very tough positions in their districts.

Israel was briefing reporters on the DCCC's 2014 recruitment strategy and outlook. Democrats need to pick up 17 seats to win back the House majority, a hefty task for President Obama's second midterm. Israel praised the president's commitment to retaking the majority and said the committee is in a "very good place" regarding his buy-in.

The New York Democrat referred to 52 seats he believes are in play next year -- but did not list them all -- 30 of which were carried by Republicans by fewer than 10 points in 2012. He also identified seven districts that perform more favorably in midterms and 15 others with special circumstances that Democrats believe will work to their advantage.

Israel promised to make the 2014 election a "referendum" on "tea party extremism."

National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said Israel's remarks illustrate the difficulty of the task before him.

“The fact that Steve Israel is having to talk about how he is trying to keep Democrat members in Republican seats from retiring is just the latest sign of how difficult their path to the majority is," she said.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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