National Republicans Wednesday chose 10 House candidates -- including two Floridians -- as the top members of their "Young Guns" program -- considered among the most promising of the 2010 challengers to Democrats.
Republicans now hold 178 House seats, meaning they need a net gain of 40 to win control of the House. In a conference call with reporters, leaders were enthusiastic.
"This year is going to be national campaign," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., GOP House campaign recruitment chairman. He and other GOP leaders are convinced voters are fed up with Democrats' inability to dramatically revive the economy and with their health care overhaul.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., insisted in a Congressional Quarterly-Roll Call interview this week that Democrats would "definitely" control Congress after this year's election.
"We will not be taken by surprise," she said, recalling 1994, when Democrats lost control of Congress to the GOP. "I am not yielding one grain of sand. My responsibility is to protect and preserve my incumbents and that's what I intend to do. ... I'm fighting for every seat."
And Republicans will fight back. The Young Guns program, created during the 2008 election cycle, is designed to help candidates in open seats and strong challengers.
The first crop of what the GOP considers the most promising candidates this year includes Dennis Ross, who is running for an open seat now held by Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, and Allen West -- who is challenging Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.