Israel has also embarked on an aggressive campaign to retire the House Democrats' campaign committee's massive $19 million debt. Israel touted his first month as chairman, in December, when he raised more than $1 million online, and he has courted incumbent members to transfer cash from their campaign accounts. In all, Democrats have made an effort to aggressively begin their 2012 election push.
"We felt sorry for ourselves and counted our losses and got down for about three hours," Israel said of election night 2010, when the party lost more than 60 seats to Republicans.
"We lost 9 million independent voters between 2006 and 2010," Israel said of lessons learned during a biennial post-mortem each campaign committee goes through. "We need to get them back, and we are a good way toward doing that."
Israel said he is not concerned about a flood of potential retirements because every member rumored or expected to step down is in a strong Democratic district. Republicans who might consider retiring, on the other hand, are more likely to represent swing or competitive seats, he said.
Still, the only member who has said he will not run again in 2012 is Rep. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who is running for an open Senate seat. Murphy's district, in the northwest corner of the Nutmeg State extending east to Waterbury and New Britain, was previously held by Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson, before Murphy beat Johnson in 2006.