Snowed in at a retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, said he and other Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials are “realistic” about his party’s  chances of taking back the House of Representatives in November’s elections.

In a freewheeling, informal talk with reporters that lasted nearly a half-hour, Himes said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., is “optimistic but realistic” about Democrats picking up the 18 or more seats they would need to wrest control of the House from Republicans.

“It’s really a tough fight,” Himes said.

The DCCC fundraising chairman, Himes said he, too, is realistic about the possibility House Democrats woould soon be in the majority.

“One of the advantages we have is a very clear dollar advantage,” Himes said. “But once again, in the spirit of realism, we also understand that party and committee fundraising could be overpowered by the immense amount of money spent by third parties, like the Koch brothers.”

With Himes’ help, the DCCC raised about $62 million last year, while the National Republican Congressional Committee raised about $49 million.

Himes was also eager to talk about campaign strategy, saying Democratic candidates will focus on winning over women, whom the party says are mistreated by the GOP, and press for immigration reform – something that could energize the heavily Democratic Latino vote.

“A lot of the (Republican) strategy is people being grumpy about the economy and the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

Himes also said Democratic leaders are allowing vulnerable Democrats in their Frontline program, a group that includes Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, to stray from the party line without criticism or punishment.

In response to a question from a reporter about Democrats who are distancing themselves from President Obama, who is suffering from low approval ratings, Himes said the president’s attentions will help some Democratic candidates.

“But there are geographies where the opposite is true,” he conceded.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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