SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Democrats still savoring their 2012 presidential victory kicked off a two-day meeting Thursday in this Republican stronghold to map strategies to retake control of the House and statehouses around the nation.
Democratic National Committee delegates also were preparing to vote on a measure demanding the resignation of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a fellow Democrat accused by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, the DNC chair, said party members will focus during their summer meeting on "expanding the map" of Democratic-controlled states, just as they did in past election cycles with Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia.
"We're in Arizona because it's important for us to send a strong signal that we're not ceding any regions of the country," she said. "We have opportunities here in Arizona because the Republicans are so extreme, and are extreme on issues that matter particularly to a demographic that has tremendous growth here in Arizona, in Texas, in Georgia, and all across the country, and that's the Hispanic community."
President Barack Obama handily won the women and minority vote in November. In response, Republicans highlighted young Hispanics in the party during their summer meeting last week in Boston.
That effort backfired, Wasserman Schultz said, when GOP delegates voted to oppose comprehensive immigration reform now stalled in the House.
"On the one hand they say they want to reach out to groups of voters that they lost big with in November of last year, like Latinos," she said. "Yet they pass a resolution on immigration and specifically leave out a path to citizenship."
Wasserman Schultz also highlighted the GOP's repeated votes to repeal the president's health care reform law, saying the efforts amounted to threats to shut down the government if the measures are not de-funded. Wasserman also cited GOP efforts to pull funding from Planned Parenthood.
"They are about as extreme as it gets, and I think they're just very unlikely to have much electoral success as long as they continue to embrace the tea party and their agenda," she said.
The Democrats plan to use voter registration efforts to target GOP states that might swing Democratic and to push Obama's message of support for the middle class, Baltimore Mayor and DNC secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
"We see that there's a lot of growth opportunity for the party and we're not afraid to reach out into those states that aren't our strongholds to build our party," she said.
A vote on the resolution involving the San Diego mayor is set for Friday.
"It's unfortunate for Bob Filner, it's unfortunate for the citizens of San Diego, but what's been most unfortunate is for the victims, the women that he has sexually harassed," Wasserman Schultz said. "His conduct was outrageous, unacceptable."