After Democrats failed to blunt a so-called “Republican wave” that swept across the nation Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) has decided not to serve another term as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Israel’s spokeswoman Samantha Slater said Thursday that Israel turned down an offer by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to serve a third term. Israel, the Democratic campaign boss since 2010, wasn’t available to comment.
Slater noted that Israel made his decision in the spring, long before Tuesday’s midterm election.
“I won’t sugarcoat it–we always knew tonight would be a challenging night, and it was for Democrats at every level,” Israel said in a statement released by the DCCC. “But as tough as tonight was, we did everything in our control to narrow the Republicans’ pick-up opportunities and limit their chance to take advantage of the wave.”
The congressman’s decision comes after a brutal drubbing by Republicans, who now control both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The GOP picked up at least seven seats in the Senate, one more than they needed for a majority, and even managed to bolster its ranks in the House.
Democrats also suffered a pair of painful losses in Israel’s home state: six-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) was unseated by Republican state Senator Lee Zeldin, and Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) comfortably defeated his Democratic challenger despite being under federal indictment.
Israel beat Republican challenger Grant Lally to hold on to his seat.
Republicans had a simple message: a vote for Democrats was a vote for President Barack Obama, whose approval rating is the lowest its been since he took office, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last month.
When Democrats realized that the anti-Obama messages was resonating with voters, they avoided the president at all costs. One Democratic candidate in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, even refused to say whether or not she voted for Obama.
In his statement released by the DCCC, Israel invoked the always-frustrating New York Mets, whose dreadful season doesn’t look so bad in comparison.
“As a Mets fan, I’ve learned to look on the bright side–and we have a strong Democratic Caucus who will come to Congress next year focused on strengthening the middle class and working together on commonsense solutions,” Israel said.
“For years Republicans have been blaming President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi,” he added. “Now that they control Congress, they have no one left to blame. It’s time for them to prove they can produce results for America’s middle class.”