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House of Representatives

On Monday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman and New York representative Steve Israel announced 16 top candidates for the DCCC’s Red to Blue program, which hopes to spur party switches in Republican-held districts.

“These candidates earned their places in our battle-tested program because of their hard work and the competitive nature of their districts,” explains Israel.

Among the 16 districts the DCCC hopes will turn blue are those currently held by Republican representatives Mike Coffman (CO-06), Tom Latham (IA-03), Joe Heck (NV-03), Jon Runyan (NJ-03) and Michael Grimm (NY-11).

Read on to learn which five DCCC-backed candidates have the best chance of winning a seat in the House in 2014.

Photo: Vpickering via Flickr

Andrew Romanoff

Andrew Romanoff

Andrew Romanoff is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives – where he served as Speaker from 2005 to 2008.

Despite an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010 – he lost in the Democratic primary to incumbent Senator Michael Bennet – Romanoff could win a seat in the House in November when he faces off with Republican incumbent Mike Coffman in Colorado’s 6th congressional district.

Not only is Colorado’s 6th a vulnerable one for Republicans – President Obama won the district in both the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections – but as of February, Romanoff had managed to raise more money than Coffman.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

Erin Bilbray

Erin Bilbray

Democrat Erin Bilbray, a political consultant and founder of Emerge Nevada, stands a good chance in Nevada’s 3rd district.

Bilbray says she never had plans to run for office, but had a change of heart after watching her friends “lose their jobs and lose their houses” due to policies she attributed to the GOP.

She now faces Republican incumbent Joe Heck, who is seen as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in 2014. There are 9,600 more Democrats than Republicans in the district, potentially giving Bilbray an advantage over the conservative Heck.

That large population of Democrats in NV-03 may also explain why Obama defeated Republican opponents John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012, raising another red flag for the incumbent.

Photo via Erinbilbray.com

Domenic Recchia

Domenic Recchia

New York representative Michael Grimm (R) faces a tough re-election bid this year, as he goes up against Democrat Domenic Recchia, a former New York City councilman.

Grimm, who represents New York’s 11th district, has presided over a long string of controversies during his time in office, including a recent incident in which he threatened a reporter after the president’s State of the Union Address when asked about a federal investigation into his 2010 fundraising practices.

According to Recchia, NY-11 did not “get the congressman it deserves.”

“I’m going to be a better congressmember,” Recchia said when he announced his campaign. “I’m going to be able to go to Washington and get what the community needs.”

Considering that President Obama carried the district in the 2012 election – 51.6 percent to 47.3 percent – Recchia could easily knock out the only Republican representing New York City in Congress.

Photo via RecchiaforCongress.com

Staci Appel

staci appel

Tom Latham’s (R-IA) December 2013 announcement that he would not be seeking re-election in 2014 has paved the way for a competitive race between Democrat Staci Appel and the winner of June’s Republican primary.

While the six Republican candidates vie for the Republican ballot, Appel, the sole Democratic challenger in the race and the only woman, is focused on finances, having raised $500,000 as of mid-January.

While some are skeptical that Appel actually has a chance in Iowa’s 3rd district, she remains optimistic, predicting that 2014 will be the “year of the women.” Were Appel to win, she would become the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress.

“I think Staci has an excellent chance of winning. I think she has an excellent chance of being the first woman elected to Congress from the state of Iowa,” Roxanne Conlin, the state’s first female candidate for governor, told the Associated Press.

IA-o3 tends to lean Democratic; it supported President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections.

Photo: Iowa Democratic Party – iowademocrats.org via Flickr

Aimee Belgard

Aimee Belgard

New Jersey’s 3rd district is also up for grabs, following Jon Runyan’s November announcement that he would retire in 2014.

If Democratic candidate Aimee Belgard runs a successful campaign against her Republican opponent and former mayor of Randolph Township, New Jersey, Tom MacArthur, she would be the first woman elected to Congress by the state since 2000. Though a victory will not come easily, a positive sign for the Democrat is that Obama carried the district in 2012 and 2008.

First, however, Belgard will need to beat two other Democratic hopefuls in order to win a spot on the ballot. With the backing of the DCCC, her chances of doing so seem increasingly better.

Photo via BelgardforCongress.com

Michael Flynn

Photo by Tomi T Ahonen/ Twitter

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a "full pardon" for his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a key figure from the start of Russia investigation and the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential transition. The reason for his lying was never fully explained. He also admitted to working as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey while serving on the Trump campaign, work that included publishing a ghost-written op-ed in The Hill that argued for extraditing an American resident who is seen as an enemy of the Turkish government. After admitting to his crimes, Flynn attempted to recant and withdraw his guilty plea, an issue which had yet to be resolved by the courts.

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