House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), joined by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), speaks during an Election Day news conference in November at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters in Washington. Lujan said Thursday that he is appointing Dan Sena, a fellow New Mexican, to manage the committee’s efforts over the coming two years. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The chairman of House Democrats’ campaign arm has tapped a fellow New Mexican to manage the effort to take back the majority from Republicans after eight years.

Dan Sena will serve as executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the committee’s chairman, said Thursday. Sena will be the first Latino to serve in that key role.

Sena, 41, was the DCCC’s deputy executive director in the past campaign cycle and led the committee’s data, analytics and field department. Democrats gained six seats in this year’s elections, fewer than party leaders had predicted, after an anticipated wave against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump turned into a wave in his favor. But they were able to protect key incumbents and take advantage of redistricting in Florida and Virginia to pick up a handful of seats.

“Dan has a proven record in the toughest of House and statewide races, from West Virginia and Missouri to Nevada and New Mexico,” Luján said in a statement. “He has modernized our data and voter contact programs, thanks to his unique ability to do a deep dive into district data and demographics, while also being able to translate that into action. … I know he will excel in protecting incumbents, working with members and candidates, and going on offense to hold House Republicans accountable in 2018.”

Democrats will need to pick up 24 seats in 2018 to claim the majority in the House — a difficult but not impossible task. The odds improved with Trump’s election, because the opposing party historically picks up seats in midterm elections.

Sena has previously served in senior roles in the Democratic Governors Association during the 2006 and 2010 cycles, and in the 2008 and 2014 campaigns of Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). He also worked on former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s 2008 run for president and on an independent committee that aided Sen. Harry M. Reid’s 2010 reelection in Nevada.

Sena’s appointment comes after a testy post-election reckoning among House Democrats that saw many members pushing for leadership changes, including at the DCCC. Previously, the committee’s chairman was hand-picked by the party leader, but dissenters managed this year to make the post an elected position. Still, Luján ran unopposed for a second term as chairman.

As the committee’s top staffer, Sena will play a leading role in making good on Luján’s pledge to make it “more inclusive, member-driven, and smart.”

“It’s a great honor and privilege to be asked to lead the DCCC in this exciting and challenging role,” Sena said. “We know that the House is where the fight will be this cycle to put a check on Republicans, and I’m excited to take on this important responsibility, with the input of our chair and members.”