Political newcomer Kevin Strouse just received a sure sign that national Democrats see him as the top contender in the 8th district. He has been named one of the DCCC’s first eight ‘Jumpstart’ candidates.
Strouse, an Iraq war veteran and former CIA officer, is challenging to incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) in Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district.
The newly-formed program, launched by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “provides early financial, communications, operational and strategic support to help high-tier candidates get a head start in these highly-targeted races.” The DCCC stated the initiative is meant to be a launching pad that is “based on the quality of the candidate and the viability of the district.”
It’s the first step toward the committee’s main recruitment program. The support for Strouse is coming earlier than last cycle, when Democratic candidate Kathy Boockvar received ‘Red to Blue’ status from the DCCC in January 2012. Fitzpatrick won re-election by 13 points last November.
Strouse campaign manager Justin Lamorte said the DCCC distinction was a reflection of his candidate’s progress on the ground.
“This early and enthusiastic response shows that Kevin’s record of service, and reputation as a problem solver are are resonating with hardworking, middle-class families in Southeastern Pennsylvania,” he said.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ian Prior stated that despite the DCCC’s support, voters will “reject candidates like Kevin Strouse and his support for the Nancy Pelosi plan for higher tax rates on Pennsylvania families and small businesses.”
Strouse announced his candidacy last month and shortly afterward Fitzpatrick was named by the NRCC to its “Patriot Program” for endangered incumbents. They also released a web ad, again linking Strouse to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.
Strouse’s candidacy has previously been compared to fellow Iraq War army vet Patrick Murphy, who represented the 8th district from 2007 to 2011 and twice sparred with Fitzpatrick. Murphy has been a vocal supporter of Strouse, going as far as to say he felt Strouse has a better chance to defeat Fitzpatrick than he initially did in 2006.
The targeting of Pennsylvania’s 8th district as a key race by both party committees suggests that 2014 could be as close as Pa. comes to a repeat of the close, intense battles between Murphy and Fitzpatrick in 2006 and 2010.