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Dems Focus on Freshmen in Frontline Program

More than half of the DCCC's 26-member incumbent-protection program, announced today, are freshmen, including a handful of members who returned to the House this year after previously serving in Congress.

The effort, called the Frontline Program, will be led by Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, a former participant in the group. Enrollment in Frontline requires members to "meet aggressive fundraising goals, accelerate volunteer and recruitment efforts, and increase their online networking," according to the DCCC.

Democrats have focused most of their early effort of the 2014 cycle on finding a path back to the majority; they need a net gain of 17 seats in next year's mid-term elections to retake the House. But the party still has vulnerabilities of its own, and House Republicans are vowing to go after members who represent right-leaning districts. Even a few takeaways would make the odds of a Democratic takeover far more difficult.

Earlier this year, the NRCC released a list of seven incumbent Democrats it touted as next year's top targets. Five of the members targeted by the NRCC -- Reps. Ron Barber and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah, and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina -- are part of the Frontline Program.

Two of them, Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Nick Rahall of West Virginia, are not officially part of the incumbency protection program. Both won reelection last year relatively comfortably, although Republicans think the conservative makeup of their districts makes them fertile ground for GOP challengers. Each district has voted for the Republican presidential nominee in the last three presidential elections.

The full list:

Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif.
Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y.
Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif.
Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.
Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Ill.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.
Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Calif.
Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y.
Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y.
Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.
Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y.
Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif.
Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif.
Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass.

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