Montana governor to lead Democrats' campaign arm

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will lead the Democratic governors' campaign arm as it looks to rebound from sweeping losses in the 2014 elections and compete in Republican territory.

Bullock was elected chairman of the Democratic Governors Association on Tuesday at its annual meeting in Los Angeles. The popular Western governor will lead the group next year and be followed by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy in 2016.

Democrats suffered a series of setbacks in the recent elections, losing governors' races in Democratic-friendly states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois. Republicans successfully defended GOP incumbents in Florida, Wisconsin, Maine and Michigan and will control 31 governors' offices next year, their most in more than a decade.

In his new role, Bullock will travel the country on behalf of fellow Democrats, courting financial donors and recruiting candidates. Three Republican-leaning states -- Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi -- will hold gubernatorial elections in 2015.

Bullock said in a statement he would work "to ensure that we win in red, purple and blue states from coast to coast."

The chairman typically serves for two years but Bullock decided to oversee the DGA for one year so he could focus on his re-election bid in 2016. His successor, Malloy, narrowly won re-election last fall and will be tasked with helping Democrats succeed in states like Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina in two years.

Bullock succeeds Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who only won a plurality in the November election, requiring the Democratic-controlled state legislature to pick the winner when it convenes in January.