DCCC raised $4.4M in January
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said Wednesday that his organization raised $4.4 million in January.
Israel said the haul is just $300,000 shy of the committee's record for January, which was set last year, and it sets a new record for an off-year -- topping even the amount it raised two years ago, following an election in which the Democrats held their House majority and won the presidency.
The committee still has $20 million in debt remaining, though, after entering the cycle with much more debt than its GOP rival.
But Israel stressed that fundraising is quckly taking care of that. "We are shattering records this quarter," he said at a press conference with reporters. "We have had a spectacularly successful fundraising cycle."
Israel also noted that Democrats raised $1 million online in December -- a big haul for internet fundraising, which generally relies upon low-dollar donors.
Fundraising numbers were not available Wednesday for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The press conference was chock full of optimism. Israel said voters are already having buyer's remorse after delivering Republicans their biggest House majority in 60 years, and he said he's convinced Democrats can retake the majority this cycle, which require a 25-seat gain.
Standing in his way is redistricting, a process that will determine the many districts in which his candidates will have to run in 2012. That process is dominated by Republicans, who will look to shore up their big new majority and create additional opportunities where possible.
But Israel said the GOP's advantage is overstated.
"At the end of the day, they're going to have to balance their equities, and I think they're going to have a hard time doing it," he said.
Redistricting slows the recruiting process, but he said the committee would announce recruits in a number districts at the end of March.
Israel did not sound optimistic about his party's chances of winning disgraced former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.), noting the the tea party governor candidate Carl Paladino (R) carried the district despite losing badly in the 2010 governor's race.
Candidates in Lee's district will be nominated by party leaders, and Israel said the DCCC will let the process play out. But he's not raising expectations.
"I don't think anybody's prepared to make the assessment that New York's 26th district is a Democratic district," he said.