As Democrats begin forming primaries in at least a half-dozen states, including Nevada, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, party leadership has been conspicuously quiet about which candidates they favor, according to Roll Call
The number of contested primaries is on the rise, according to USA Today
, something the newspaper says can be attributed to a multitude of factors, such as "rare opportunities, frustrated down-ballot Democrats, and a philosophical debate between the centrist and progressive wings of the party as it approaches the post-Obama era."
The prospect of remaining in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — "and a party leadership structure that allows for little turnover or growth" — have likely influenced Democrats who have announced their intentions to run for the Senate, with more considering following suit, USA Today reports. Six lawmakers, including in California and Maryland, have done so thus far.
Political operatives tell Roll Call that the leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee learned its lesson after candidates it endorsed early in the 2014 primary turned out to be disappointments.
The organization is taking a page from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which does not publicly endorse candidates in primaries, though the DCCC may "still jump in some races where it matters," according to an unnamed Democratic operative who spoke to Roll Call.
The DCCC has opted to be more "methodical" this time around.
"They still want strong candidates … but I think last time it was more a push just to get people in so they had time to raise money, and less of a qualitative look at the full district and who else might be out there," said a Democratic consultant who spoke to the website on the condition of anonymity. "And so they aren’t rushing to judgment."
DCCC Executive Director Kelly Ward says the organization has learned that sitting back until later in the process is the preferred course of action.
"We’re a lot more about getting the right candidate, even if it means they’re not getting in until the fall," she said.
Despite the change in course, DCCC communications director Matt Thornton issued a statement boldly declaring Democrats would be victorious in 2016.
"Democrats are on offense all across the map in competitive seats that become even more competitive as this Republican Congress tries to enact their reckless agenda," Thornton said. "2016 is not a question of if Democrats will pick up seats, rather how many."
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