New Mexico Dem tapped to head campaign committee

AP News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2014 5:53 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that she had tapped Rep. Ben Ray Lujan to head the campaign committee and try to get the party back on track after a drubbing in midterm elections.

The 42-year-old Lujan, who would be the first Hispanic to hold the post, will succeed New York Rep. Steve Israel as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The midterms of President Barack Obama's second term were widely expected to be tough for Democrats, but the party had an even tougher going as Republicans claimed a commanding majority and captured seats in typically favorable states such as New York, Illinois and Maine.

Democrats lost at least a dozen seats and Republicans should hold 246 in the next Congress, the most in nearly 70 years.

Lujan told reporters at a news conference that the 2016 presidential election year should be more favorable.

"We will be on the offensive to put the majority in play," he said.

Despite their strength at an historic low, Democrats plan to stand pat with their leadership at elections on Tuesday. Democrats are expected to re-elect the 14-term Pelosi as leader and 17-term Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland for the No. 2 job.

In addition to Lujan, Pelosi is recommending that Israel serve as chairman of policy and communications, crafting a message for the party; Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut to be the Steering Committee co-chairman and Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland to be policy co-chair.

The Democratic caucus is expected to approve the slate.

Lujan told reporters Monday that he wants to "take lessons from the recent elections and get right to work."

Lujan is well-versed in politics. His father Ben was the former state House speaker in New Mexico.