Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, was sworn into office for his second term in the U.S. House on Tuesday and by Tuesday afternoon House leaders announced Braley will play a key role for Democrats, nationally, in the 2010 election.
Braley will serve as a vice chair on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in charge of "offensive efforts" according to a news release. "I am primarily going to be focusing on overseeing the ‘Red to Blue Program’ which is members who are trying to turn an existing seat that is held by Republicans to a Democratic seat," Braley says. "…But I’ll also be working to oversee the candidate recruitment part of that process which is trying to identify districts where we can be competitive in 2010."
Braley was first elected to congress in 2006. In the 2008 election, Braley worked with other Democratic candidates around the country who were seeking seats that were considered in Republican-leaning districts. "Those are very valuable experiences. You get to see other parts of the country, find out what the key issues are to those voters and see how they relate to the overall national problems that you’re working on back here in Washington," Braley says.
Braley may have his work cut out for him in 2010. Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992, but the 1994 election was a good year for Republicans. And Republican George Bush won reelection in 2004 only to see Democrats make great gains in congress in 2006, so with Democrat Barack Obama’s election in 2008, 2010 could prove troublesome for Democrats. Braley says he’ll advise his Democratic peers to focus on "money, message and mobilization" for 2010 congressional races. "I think one of the most important challenges we face is protecting our incumbents in 2010 and there will be a major focus places on that, but one of the lessons we’ve learned from the last two cycles is you have to be aggressive and play in districts that are in play all over the country in order to maintain your majority," Braley says, "and that’s what we plan to do."
Braley also points to the 30 additional seats Democratic congressional candidates won in 2008 as evidence there may be a longterm trend toward Democrats.