The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added Mike Obermueller, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline, to the top of its "Red to Blue" list for this fall's election -- an indication that Obermueller's campaign will receive support from Washington, D.C.
DCCC leaders added Obermueller to their "Emerging Races" list earlier this year and have now promoted him to the top tier, which means national Democrats now consider his candidacy among the most competitive in the nation.
"Mike is first and foremost a problem solver who Minnesota families can count on to overcome partisanship and put Minnesota middle class families, seniors, and small businesses before Washington special interests, millionaires and Big Oil," said DCCC chairman Steve Israel in a statement.
The "Red to Blue" program highlights top Democratic campaigns and races across the country, and offers them financial, communications, organizing and strategic support.
So far, Obermueller is the only Minnesota candidate at the top on the list. The DCCC, the campaign arm of the U.S. House of Representatives, helps newcomers get elected and supports Democratic incumbents in districts that are expected to have close elections.
"Our message of creating jobs, standing up for middle class families, ending Congressional perks and cutting through the gridlock in Washington has been resonating throughout the region," Obermueller said in a release. "The early strength we have demonstrated by being named to the Red to Blue program means we have the support, confidence, and momentum necessary to win in November."
Kline's campaign declined comment on the DCCC targeting his seat.
Kline has served the Second Congressional District since 2003. When the state's political boundaries were redrawn this year, he lost Republican-leaning portions of his district and picked up parts of the state with more DFL voters.
Before his Congressional run, Obermueller served two years in the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing a district that covers Eagan from 2009 to 2011.
The most recent campaign finance reports, which cover fundraising through the end of March, show Kline with a significant fundraising advantage in the race. Kline has more than $1 million banked for his re-election campaign; Obermueller -- who didn't secure the Democratic nomination until after the last filing deadline -- had no campaign funds then.
June 30 is the deadline for the next campaign finance reporting period. Obermueller's addition to the "Red to Blue" list could send a signal to potential donors that he is a candidate with a shot at winning the seat.