Washington Rep. Nancy Boyda is declining offers of help from national Democratic Party officials in her next campaign, despite being targeted as one of the most vulnerable House members in 2008.
The Kansas Democrat says she wants to stick to the grass-roots campaign strategy that brought her to Washington in the first place.
"I ran an independent campaign to get here, and I intend to run an independent campaign to get re-elected," Boyda said Tuesday.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee planned to include Boyda and about 30 other lawmakers in its Frontline program, which helps some candidates with advice, strategy and fundraising support.
Boyda, whose district includes Topeka and portions of Lawrence and eastern Kansas, surprised many pundits when she defeated incumbent Republican Jim Ryun by a 51-47 percent margin in November. The Republican-leaning district re-elected President Bush in 2004 with 59 percent of the vote.
Most lawmakers chosen for the Frontline program are freshman Democrats who won by 10 points or less. Lawmakers in the program are expected to meet aggressive fundraising goals, build volunteer and recruitment efforts, and increase online networking.
Boyda is one of two Democrats who decided to opt out this year. New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who defeated incumbent Rep. Jeb Bradley, R-N.H., also decided to distance herself from national party advisers.
DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said it's not unusual for some lawmakers to decline the party's help.
"It's a decision that individual members make about how they want to go forward," Crider said. "Boyda ran a very strong, aggressive grass-roots campaign. The DCCC stands ready to help if she's attacked by the Republicans with any unfair or particularly vicious attacks."
Boyda's Democratic colleague Kansas Rep. Dennis Moore, of Lenexa, was part of the Frontline program the past two election cycles but was left off the list this year. Moore also has been a GOP target given the conservative leanings of his district in the suburbs of Kansas City. Moore's district also includes parts of Lawrence.
"Dennis represents a very, very different district," Boyda said. "It's very urban and suburban, and mine is very rural."
Boyda said her system of focusing on personal contact has proven effective with the largely rural population she represents.
If Boyda surprised Republicans last year, the party does not plan to be caught off-guard in 2008. The GOP already considers the seat one of its top targets. Ryun has told Kansas Republicans that he wants a rematch, and State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins is considered a potential candidate as well.
Boyda won the seat by running as a moderate, refusing help from national Democrats and relying on her husband, Steve, to manage the campaign. She stressed issues such as education, health care and the economy, and criticized Ryun's record of constituent service.
"There's already a great deal of pressure to do things Washington's way, to hire Washington consultants, to do the typical Washington fundraising," Boyda said. "I love being a Democrat and I'm happy to be part of the team, but this is where I just want to remain independent."
Boyda said she's not surprised Ryun already is gearing up for a rematch.
"I know that I'm headed into a very, very vigorous campaign and election cycle," Boyda said. "It will be a vigorous debate, and I'm putting it politely."