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Steve Israel to guide Dems’ congressional campaign

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Steve Israel of New York was named to run the next congressional elections for Democrats.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the outgoing House of Representatives speaker, was elected minority leader last week after Democrats lost as many as 60 seats and the House in midterm elections.

Centrists questioned whether the liberal Pelosi should run for minority leader, noting the losses. Naming Israel, at one time a member of the center-right "Blue Dog" caucus, to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will likely be seen as an accommodation of such criticism.

Israel, a pro-Israel leader in the House who has a background in Jewish communal work, has consistently won his Long Island swing district since 2000.

"Steve Israel has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in recruiting candidates, in attracting resources, and in communicating core Democratic values for middle class and working families," Pelosi said in a statement last Friday announcing that Israel would replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "As DCCC chairman, Congressman Israel’s practical experience in running and winning in difficult districts will provide critical leadership for Democrats to regain the majority in 2012.”

DCCC chairmen are generally tapped from among the party’s most formidable fundraisers.

The National Jewish Democratic Council praised the choice.

"We know him to be a true leader who will help to spread both Democratic and Jewish values," David Harris, the council’s president, said in a statement.