Iowa Democrats

FILE - U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., speaks during the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Des Moines, Iowa. Bustos is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Twenty months before Election Day 2020, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is establishing a presence in upstate New York. 

The House Democrats' campaign arm will place paid organizers in congressional districts across the country, including the 22nd and 24th districts in New York. 

The effort is part of the DCCC's March Forward initiative. It's a multi-million-dollar investment by the committee to retain the House majority and defeat vulnerable Republican members. 

The exact cost of the program wasn't disclosed. 

Democrats are aiming to protect U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a freshman from Utica, in the 22nd district. In the 24th, they hope to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko, who is in his third term as the district's congressman. 

Organizers placed in the districts will be trained on communications, digital and research strategy. The DCCC is deploying nearly 60 organizers across the country. 

The March Forward initiative is similar to a program the DCCC had during the 2018 election cycle called March into '18. March Forward will target voters in cities and rural areas, and will also focus on engaging with people of color. 

"Whether it's tackling the high cost of health care of fighting for fair wages, we believe in an America where everyone has the opportunity to succeed — this is what makes us Democrats," DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos said. "Our March Forward field managers will play a vital role in our work to not just defend, but expand our new Democratic majority." 

The DCCC has already been active in upstate New York, particularly in the 24th district. 

In February, the group added Katko, R-Camillus, to its "Retirement Watch List." The list contains the names of 19 House Republicans who may retire before the 2020 elections. 

Katko has indicated that he will run for re-election next year. 

Democrats view Katko as a top target in 2020. The group released a list of 33 Republican-held seats they plan to compete for next year. Katko is one of four New Yorkers on the list. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.