Fourth district congressional candidate Josh Zeitz has been added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “races to watch” list.
The placement could put Zeitz, who’s challenging long-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton), on deck to receive fundraising help from the DCCC over the next two months.
The “races to watch” category is the third tier of the group’s prospects. The first tier – the “Red to Blue” program – provides fundraising help in the most competitive districts. Assemblywoman Linda Stender, who’s running against Republican state Sen. Leonard Lance for an open seat in District 7, and State Sen. John Adler, who’s running Republican Medford Mayor Chris Myers for an open seat in District 3, are in that program. Blind rabbi/psychologist Dennis Shulman, who’s running against U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett in the 5th District, is in the second tier “emerging races” program.
“The targeting demonstrates that the DCCC believes this race is competitive and worth investment,” read a press releases from the Zeitz campaign. “Demographic shifts have created the unique conditions for beating 28 year incumbent Chris Smith. Democrats now enjoy a voter registration edge in the 4th District and consistently win the district at the Presidential, Gubernatorial and Senate levels. With boosted turnout and registration expected from urban areas like Trenton, Zeitz is poised for one of the biggest upsets of the cycle.”
The classification of the district, however, was not based on polling data.
Political analyst Stu Rothenberg today wrote about the DCCC’s lists, calling them “gimmicks to try to drive resources and media coverage to them without the committee necessarily having to spend its own money on candidates who have little or no chance of winning.” Rothenberg was puzzled as to why the Democrats would add several long shot races to their lists just as political prospects are beginning to look up for Republicans.
Three of the 15 candidates named to the "emerging races" category — newly created last year — won their races. Seven more went on to run again and become top tier races this time around. The category of "races to watch" did not exist.
Smith campaign manager Martin Gillespie, however, agreed with Rothenberg's assessment.
"We agree withRothenberg when he says Chris Smithis 'incredibly popular and holds a commanding lead in the race,' said Gillespie. “When nationally respected Stu Rothenberg selects your opponent's campaign as an "absurd" example of how the DCCC is undermining its own credibility, that just about says it all.”