Braley named Vice Chair of DCCC

Bruce Braley was elected to Congress in 2006 with the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program. In 2008 he helped manage the DCCC’s Red to Blue efforts. For the next election cycle, he’s been promoted again:

The DCCC today named the second of its three Vice Chairs – Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) will serve as Vice Chair for candidate services, responsible for the DCCC’s offensive efforts including recruitment, money, and training.  

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen said, “The DCCC will stay aggressive this cycle and continue to challenge Republicans who are out of step with their districts.  As a former chair and former member of the Red to Blue program, Bruce Braley knows first hand what it takes to be a successful candidate; his battle tested leadership will be a real asset to our candidates facing tough elections.”

Congressman Bruce Braley brings his experience as chair of the DCCC’s successful and effective 2008 Red to Blue Program and as a former member of the Red to Blue Program.

Vice Chair Bruce Braley said, “I’m looking forward to continuing my work at the DCCC in this new leadership role.  It’s critical for us to continue assisting our candidates with the money, messaging and mobilization they will need to get elected in the 2010 election cycle.  I will work hard to help our candidates win their races.”

Congressman Bruce Braley will serve as Vice Chair for candidate services.  The DCCC’s candidate services include recruiting, money, and training.  A Vice Chair focusing on Member participation will be named at a later date.

Last month, Van Hollen named Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida the DCCC Vice Chair for incumbent retention. Given her refusal to endorse three Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents in south Florida, it was appropriate for Van Hollen to remove her from a leadership role in the Red to Blue program.

The third vice chair “will seek to increase House member participation in DCCC efforts,” which presumably means getting more safe Democratic incumbents to pay their DCCC dues.

So Braley’s niche will be finding and capitalizing on opportunities to pick up Republican-held seats. 2010 is likely to be a more challenging environment for Democratic candidates than the past two cycles, but it’s good to know the DCCC is planning to remain on offense as well. We have a chance to achieve a political realignment, given the Democratic advantages with certain demographic groups in recent elections. Building on our success in 2006 and 2008 will require the DCCC to do more than protect our own vulnerable incumbents.

Good luck to Representative Braley in his new role. He’ll be quite busy the next couple of years, with a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a Populist Caucus to lead.

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The odds in favor of a good climate change bill just improved

An earthquake hit Capitol Hill today, as the House Democratic caucus voted 137 to 122 to make Representative Henry Waxman of California chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He will replace Representative John Dingell of Michigan, who has served in the House for more than 50 years (after his father represented the same district for more than two decades).

Dingell has been the top Democrat on the panel for 28 years and is an old-school supporter of the auto industry. Waxman has complained that the committee has been too slow to address environmental issues like global warming.

“The argument we made was that we needed a change for the committee to have the leadership that will work with this administration and members in both the House and the Senate in order to get important issues passed in health care, environmental protection, in energy policy,” Waxman said after the vote.

“The next two years are critical,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who spoke on Waxman’s behalf in the closed-door caucus. “It’s not personal. It’s about the American people demanding that we embrace change and work with the president on critical issues of climate change and energy and health care.”

This is more important than the Senate Democrats caving to Joe Lieberman on Tuesday.

It’s an excellent sign that the new Congress will be serious about progressive change. I had read yesterday that freshman Democrats were overwhelmingly for Waxman, while the Blue Dogs and Congressional Black Caucus were mostly for Dingell.

It’s unfortunate that Dingell has spent several decades trying to shield the big three American automakers from government regulation on fuel efficiency and other matters. If he had not “protected” them for so long, maybe U.S.-made cars would be more desirable for more consumers, and the automakers would not be on the brink of bankruptcy.

Of course, our employer-based health care system is another major drag on American manufacturers. With any luck we will be able to help uninsured Americans and major industry at the same time by passing universal health care reform.

Congratulations to Waxman for taking the first step in what will no doubt be a long slog.

UPDATE: A Siegel is encouraged by Obama’s speech to the recent bipartisan governors’ summit on climate change. Click the link for more details and the text of the speech.

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