House Democrats Give Extra Help To 13 Challengers To GOP Incumbents

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Wednesday unveiled the names of 13 challengers for House seats who will get special attention--and cash--as they try to oust Republican incumbents. They are Kay Barnes (Missouri 6), Anne Barth (WestVirginia 2), Darcy Burner (Washington 8), Robert Daskas (Nevada 3), Steve Driehaus (Ohio 1), Jim Himes (Connecticut 4), Christine Jennings (Florida 13), Larry Kissell (North Carolina 8), Suzanne Kosmas (Florida 24), Eric Massa (New York 29), Gary Peters (Michigan 9), Mark Schauer (Michigan 7), and Dan Seals (Illinois 10).

The challengers are the second slate of candidates in the DCCC Red to Blue Program, which offers financial, communications, and strategic support. Earlier this year, the committee placed 11 Democrats competing for open seats or in special elections in the program.

Talking about the new slate, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who chairs the DCCC, said: "These candidates have come out of the gate strong. [They] are strong examples of Democrats who represent a commitment to new priorities for the families in their districts."

Red to Blue aims to give the candidates "the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November," the committee said. Translated: online and possibly direct-mail solicitation of contributors and the prospect of campaign visits by Democratic leaders.

The DCCC said its Red to Blue effort in 2006 raised nearly $22.6 million for 56 campaigns, or an average of more than $400,000 per candidate, following 2004 results of $7.5 million for 27 campaigns, or an average of more than a quarter-million dollars per candidate.

More candidates will be chosen for the program later this year, a committee spokesman said.

By Katherine Skiba