Democratic congressional hopeful Scott Peters was named a "Red to Blue" candidate on Friday, a status reserved for the party's top-tier candidates in competitive races across the country.
Peters is readying a challenge to Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray of San Diego.
The La Jolla Democrat said he was selected after meeting various fundraising, organizing and infrastructure goals, along with demonstrating he would bring a problem-solving approach to Washington.
"As a former city councilman and port commissioner, Scott Peters has built a solid reputation as a problem solver who gets things done," Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a prepared statement.
"In Congress, Scott will stand up for California's seniors and middle class, and San Diegans can trust him to fight for them rather than special interests and big oil companies."
Bilbray's campaign consultant said the announcement was par for the course.
"Given that Scott Peters is on the record wanting to raise taxes, increase spending and cut Medicare and Social Security, it doesn't surprise me at all that the DCCC is supporting him," Duane Dichiara said.
The redrawn 52nd district was already designated Red to Blue, but leaders of the House Democratic campaign arm stood back as Peters and former Democratic Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña slugged it out through last week's primary. Bilbray received more than 41 percent of the vote.
Peters said he believes he has enough votes to secure a second-place finish given the small number of ballots that remain uncounted on Friday. Saldaña has yet to formally endorse Peters but stated this week that chief among her reasons for running was retiring Bilbray.
The DCCC designation typically offers financial, communications and strategic support.
"I'm honored by the great support we've earned during our campaign from people who agree that the 52nd needs a representative in Washington who will stand up for working families, protect Medicare and Social Security and reignite the American dream," Peters said. "Being named to Red-to-Blue means we have the support, confidence, and momentum it takes to win in November."
The redrawn 52nd district -- stretching from Poway through Clairemont, La Jolla, downtown San Diego and Coronado -- is one of a handful being targeted by House Democrats as they work to regain a majority.
The Republican registration advantage is about three percentage points.
In February, the National Republican Congressional Committee named Bilbray to its Patriot Program designed to help vulnerable incumbents seeking re-election -- mostly in "swing" districts.