The executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is hoping to ride a wave of Democratic fury to recapture the majority in the House for the first time since the 2010 elections.
“I think 2018 is filled with opportunities for the Democratic Party,” Sena said in an interview with Playbook at his office at the DCCC’s headquarters. “I think we have a desire to really build the largest battlefield this place has had in a decade.”
And so far, hopeful House Democrats have looked like they are up to the challenge. At least 162 Democrats in open or Republican-incumbent districts have raised at least $100,000, as of the most recent Federal Election Commission filing deadline. On top of that, nearly three dozen House Republicans were outraised by Democratic challengers in the third quarter of this year.
The DCCC itself has also seen a surge, nearly tripling new donors to 250,000 since the beginning of the year.
Sena is also revisiting how — and whom — the Democratic Party is recruiting to run for the House. He said the national organization is working with grass-roots activists at the district level instead of taking a top-down approach directed by the national office to find the best match.
He summarizes the DCCC’s approach as “arm[ing] the rebels” — training a national network of activists and potential campaign staffers while deploying organizers into districts they see as particularly vulnerable to help rally the local grass roots.
The candidates the rebels are backing also look differently than past cycles’ recruits. Democrats have seen a wave of veterans enter the fray — like Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot running in Kentucky’s 6th District.
“There’s a new breed of patriot that is sort of emerging out of the Democratic Party,” Sena said. “Part of that has been because it was inspired naturally, part of it has been intentional. … When you have people who look like their districts, feel like their districts and have served their country or served their community in some way, you immediately begin in a place where those voters are going to be closer to you, they’re going to be more likely to listen to you.”
Sena and the DCCC will be playing offense this cycle, ramping up pressure on his Republican counterparts.
“We’re going to make them have to fight for every goddamn inch. Every single inch,” he said. “They will have to pick who they invest in and who they don’t invest in. They’ll going to have to pick which members they let go, which they don’t let go.” — Zach Montellaro