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2024 Election

Democrats launch their first slate of challengers in the fight for the House majority

First on NBC News: The DCCC is backing 17 candidates in some of the most competitive districts on the 2024 map as part of its "red to blue" program.
Suzan DelBene speaks at a news conference.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are officially announcing their first 17 candidates to take on Republicans in competitive districts Monday, launching the "red-to-blue" program as part of a quest to regain control of the chamber this fall.

The candidates hail from districts that were hotly contested in the 2022 election and are likely to decide the majority in November. Some, but not all, were carried by President Joe Biden in 2020.

The announcement, first reported by NBC News, gives these contenders the official stamp of approval from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, planting a flag with donors, activists and party loyalists about whom they see as best positioned to win in critical districts.

Republicans control the majority by a wafer-thin margin of 219 to 213, with three vacancies. Both parties are defending a host of seats in competitive territory.

Here's the list of 17 districts and DCCC-backed candidates:

  • AZ-06: Kirsten Engel (held by Rep. Juan Ciscomani)
  • CA-13: Adam Gray (held by Rep. John Duarte)
  • CA-22: Rudy Salas (held by Rep. David Valadao)
  • CA-27: George Whitesides (held by Rep. Mike Garcia)
  • CA-41: Will Rollins (held by Rep. Ken Calvert)
  • CO-03: Adam Frisch (open seat)
  • IA-01: Christina Bohannan (held by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks)
  • IA-03: Lanon Baccam (held by Rep. Zach Nunn)
  • MI-07: Curtis Hertel (open seat)
  • MT-01: Monica Tranel (held by Rep. Ryan Zinke)
  • NE-02: Tony Vargas (held by Rep. Don Bacon)
  • NY-03: Tom Suozzi (open)
  • NY-17: Mondaire Jones (held by Rep. Mike Lawler)
  • NY-19: Josh Riley (held by Rep. Marc Molinaro)
  • OR-05: Janelle Bynum (held by Rep. Lori Chavez-Deremer)
  • TX-15: Michelle Vallejo (held by Rep. Monica De La Cruz)
  • VA-02: Missy Cotter Smasal (held by Rep. Jen Kiggans)

Some of the candidates, like Suozzi and Jones, are former House members. Suozzi is running in the Feb. 13 special election for the competitive district previously held by former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. Regardless of the outcome, Suozzi is expected to run for it again this fall. New York’s map could also change dramatically by the fall, as a redistricting battle is still underway.

Others, like Gray, Salas and Rollins, are eying rematches with the same California GOP incumbents after narrowly losing to them in 2022. Another, Curtis Hertel, is running for an open seat vacated by Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., who is running for the Senate.

Frisch nearly defeated Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., in 2022. She recently announced she’s running in a different district that is more GOP-friendly.

“House Democrats have multiple paths to winning back the majority and this incredible slate of candidates are at the forefront of these efforts,” DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., said in a statement. “These candidates reflect the broad and diverse coalition that will be critical to Democrats’ success in 2024, and their commitment to solving the urgent problems facing everyday Americans stand in stark contrast to the MAGA fealty of their opponents.”

These 17 districts don't cover other competitive areas that Biden won, such as the one held by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., or seats the party needs to hold to maximize its chances, like the open seat being vacated by Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., who is running for governor, instead.

In response, the National Republican Congressional Committee noted that several of the Democratic candidates have run and lost before, comparing them to “week-old crusty lasagna.”

NRCC Chair Richard Hudson, R-N.C., recently told reporters he feels confident his party will gain seats in the 2024 election. He said he sees 37 pickup opportunities in Democratic-held swing districts and areas that Donald Trump won in the 2020 election.

“We’re going to grow the majority,” Hudson said. “We’re going to pick up seats, but I’m not gonna give you a number.”

One thing both parties agree on: The playing field is relatively narrow, and neither side will end up with a huge majority after the election.

“It’s a knife fight in a dark alley for the majority,” Hudson quipped, reading from his notes. “It’s a small battleground. We have to win in some tough territory for us.”