WASHINGTON -- The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is banking on a mix of good recruitment and a little bit of luck to win back the House in 2012. And in the case of Joe Miklosi, they're leaning on luck.
Miklosi, a liberal Colorado state representative in the running to unseat Tea Party-backed Rep. Mike Coffman, is anticipating a federal district court ruling in the coming weeks that will redraw his district to include more Democrats. The courts had to step in to resolve the state's redistricting efforts after the legislature failed to reach an agreement following the 2010 census.
Under Democrats' proposed map, Miklosi's 6th congressional district would be nudged into a more progressive area outside of Denver. While it remains to be seen how the court will rule on a final redistricting plan, Miklosi notes the judge overseeing the case was appointed by a Democrat and many of the lead lawyers in the case are Democrats who have argued before the judge for years. And in the likely event the GOP appeals a ruling in favor of a map drawn by Democrats to the state Supreme Court, Miklosi says that court is also heavily Democratic and expected to side with the district judge.
In others words, the stars may be aligning for a pro-choice, pro-gay rights progressive to take over a seat once held by ultra-conservative Rep. Tom Tancredo, who became a nationally known figure for his hard-line positions on immigration.
"The irony of me taking the seat over, the Latino community is just incredibly enthused," Miklosi told The Huffington Post.
"The district would go from an 8 to 22 percent Latino population" under the Democratic plan, he said. "I’m a Dream Act sponsor. Coffman votes with Tancredo."
A national Democratic official called it "a big deal" that Miklosi's district is likely to lean more Democratic after redistricting. In addition, said the official, Coffman made himself much more vulnerable to a Democratic challenger recently by calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme -- a message that won't sit well with the district's senior citizens.
Still, the biggest news is that new generic ballot polling is showing Democrats in the lead nationally, said the official, "presumably in swing districts like this."
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found voters support a Democratic candidate over a Republican candidate in their district by eight points (48 percent to 40 percent). Another new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that voters prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress to a Republican-controlled Congress by four points (45 percent to 41 percent).
Miklosi is one of dozens of Democratic candidates the DCCC has been touting as strong contenders for Republican and open districts in 2012. Some of their prized candidates include astronaut Jose Hernandez, who is running California's newly-drawn 10th district; former Rep. Dan Maffei, who wants his seat back in New York's 25th distict; and Christie Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsak, who is taking on conservative Rep. Steve King in Iowa's 4th district.
The DCCC boasted Friday that it has already reached its recruitment goal for the year and secured more than twice the 25 seats needed to regain the House majority.
“With the wind now at our backs, we have strong Democratic candidates running in 60 Republican and open districts across the country, putting twice as many seats in play as Democrats need to take the House,” DCCC chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. "Buyer’s remorse has set in with Independent voters across the country who are rejecting the Republican agenda that ends Medicare and fails to create jobs while protecting special interests and the ultra wealthy at the expense of the middle class and seniors."
Make no mistake: Miklosi, who has worked at Project C.U.R.E. for fours years and previously launched an Internet company, still has a tough climb ahead. Even if redistricting efforts go his way, his district will shake out to being an almost 50/50 split among Democrats and Republicans. And national Republican groups will almost certainly infuse Coffman's campaign with money in order to prevent a Democratic takeover.
But Miklosi said he is moving full steam ahead with fundraising -- he raised $130,000 in this election cycle -- and thinks he has a good shot at winning over independents with his focus on jobs and the economy. In fact, his optimism about his chances at winning was what led him to reach out to the DCCC back in May, not the other way around.
"I went to them. I said, 'Here's who I am. Here's how I'm going to win this seat. Here's the redistricting process. And I'm in.'"
DCCC's reply was short and the point.
"Watch the map. Raise the money," Miklosi said. "That's a fair response."
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