Rep. Steve Israel will take on a newly created post to direct House Democratic policy and communications in the next Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday as she named the first Latino to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to succeed him.
Israel, a Huntington Democrat, will get his wish to remain in the House Democratic leadership as he steps down after two elections and four years despite grumbling by some Democrats that their party failed to get its message across as it lost at least 15 seats in the mid-term elections earlier this month.
"In his new role as chair of something called Policy and Communications, Congressman Israel will be an invaluable asset to our caucus working closely with the Steering and Policy Committee to develop our caucus message, jump start the middle class, and to reignite the American dream," Pelosi said at a news conference.
Israel, who has chafed recently about the difficult DCCC job, said, "You have no idea how happy I am. This may be the happiest day of my life."
Israel in an interview said he will serve in a capacity similar to the role Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plays for Senate Democrats as chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
Replacing Israel as DCCC chairman, Pelosi said, will be Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), a four-term congressman who was vice chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, where he led its political action committee.
Pelosi called Lujan "a dynamic and forward looking leader with a fresh energy and ideas."
The appointments will not be effective until Wednesday, after the House Democrats vote on their leaders for the next Congress in a closed session in the morning. Pelosi and her lieutenants, Reps. Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.), are unopposed and expected to win.
Still, some Democrats publicly complained about the Democratic leadership Monday.
"We think clearly there was a lack of a coherent and compelling message," Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told Politico. "We believe that certainly our leadership worked hard, but there's obviously something lacking because we lost so many seats."
But Israel said he has no plans to change the Democrats' essential focus on the middle class and women.
"Our country is experiencing the deepest and the most acute anxiety for the middle class in history," Israel said at the news conference. "And this new position within the Democratic leadership will bring our messaging and our policies, particularly on middle-class anxieties, to a new and never before seen level for our caucus."