House Democrats plot 2016 takeover

Would Freedom Caucus back Paul Ryan for Speaker?
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Washington (CNN)More than 40 Democratic candidates hoping to take back Republican-held seats are swarming the capital this week for a full schedule of strategy meetings as Democrats plot a path to retake the House in 2016 amid Republican infighting on Capitol Hill.

The Democratic candidates for Congress and two potential recruits will meet with fundraisers, pollsters, strategists and party leaders in Washington beginning Wednesday, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aide told CNN.
The candidates are running in 36 congressional districts where they hope to either unseat the Republican incumbent or win a seat being vacated by a Republican. Their visit comes as House Republicans continue to struggle to coalesce around a successor to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner.
The goal, according to the aide, is to arm the Democratic candidates with the best resources and information available to run the smartest, most effective races possible.
    Democrats are seizing on dysfunction in the House Republican ranks, especially as a disjointed Republican caucus threatens timely action on critical pieces of upcoming legislation that if unaddressed could result in a government shutdown or cause the U.S. to default on its debt obligations.
    "Democrats are united and rallying together this week, so that our candidates have the tools necessary to run high energy, effective campaigns, and are ready to hold Republicans accountable in 2016," DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan said in a statement to CNN.
    The House narrowly avoided a government shutdown amid hardline conservative efforts to hold up government funding over Planned Parenthood, funding the government with a continuing resolution through December.
    But before Congress again wrangles with government funding, members must first pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling before November 3 to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its debt obligations and facing a potential credit downgrade.
    It's not the first time Democrats have tried to seize on dysfunction in the GOP ranks. Democrats seized on the 2013 government shutdown to try to push Republicans out of office in the next year's election with little success.
    But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has hinted at the "prospect of a wave" election in 2016 that could propel many of the Democratic candidates flocking to Washington this week into congressional offices in just over a year -- and put Democrats back in control of the House for the first time since 2011.
    "I think the Democrats could have the gavel in 18 months," Pelosi said at the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend. "Even some pollsters are saying to us, 'I see a prospect of a wave.' Now, I think right now, today, you won't tell anybody I said this: I see us probably easily winning half the seats -- maybe two-thirds -- with what we have in place."
    The House GOP campaign arm mocked Pelosi's optimism and downplayed chances for these candidates.
    "Nancy Pelosi has once again proven to be delusional by claiming this is a wave election for Democrats," Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told CNN in a written statement. "We hear this song and dance from the minority leader every cycle and frankly it's time for her to hang up her dancing shoes."
    The Democratic candidates will meet party leaders, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and the D.C. press corps.