Israel stays on as head of key Dem committee

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) will remain chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after assuming the fund-raising position during the 2010 midterm elections, his office said.

At a news conference in Washington last week, the lawmaker joined with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to address new Democrats in Congress and remark on his time at the helm of the party’s official campaign arm.

“I am honored to be asked by my colleagues to continue as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” Israel said. “I will continue to use my leadership position to advance the interests of the New Yorkers I represent, and I will strive to build upon our successes of this year by recruiting more problem-solver candidates who are interested in solutions and not just advancing ideology.”

The following day, Pelosi also announced her decision to once again seek leadership of the party in the House.

“[Pelosi] told me when she asked me to chair the DCCC that it would be a labor, it really was a labor of love,” Israel said. “I’ve enjoyed every single day of this job.”

Pelosi spoke fondly of the more than 10-year congressman, who now represents parts of Little Neck, Douglaston and Bay Terrace alongside parts of Nassau County under the new redrawn district lines.

“When I asked him to take this responsibility to serve our country and our colleagues, I said to all of you that he is the gold standard of a member of Congress,” Pelosi said. “He knows the policy. He cares about the American people and that drives him to do the politics to increase our numbers, to pass legislation that takes us forward to improve the lives of the American people.”

When Israel took the top DCCC position in the 2010 midterm elections, the congressman met with potential party candidates all over the country and recruited candidates for special elections. He replaced Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who later went on to become a ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

That year, the Democrats lost their majority in the House to what Israel called a Tea Party wave, which he said was subsequently rolled back after the 2012 general election.

“After 2010, Republicans thought they put Democrats on defense forever, but tonight the Tea Party wave was reversed,” Israel said on the election night. “Despite Republicans’ predictions that they would significantly expand their majority after the wave that swept them in power, like Democrats did in 2008, we didn’t let it happen. We took the fight to Republicans all across the country and won at least 25 Republican or new seats — beating the expectations.”

Israel won re-election to Congress in 2012’s general election in a race against Republican Stephen Labate and Libertarian Michael McDermott. He will now represent the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from Whitestone through Beechhurst, Bay Terrace, a sliver of Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and eastern Queens into the North Shore of Long Island, including Huntington, Babylon, Islip, Smithtown and Oyster Bay.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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