WASHINGTON – Rep. Vern Buchanan's top challenger, David Shapiro, could see a big financial and strategic boost from national Democrats party after being named today to the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program.

"Shapiro has worked hard in his community to earn a spot on Red to Blue by surpassing aggressive goals for grassroots engagement, local support, campaign organization, and fundraising. Beyond his demonstrated abilities to build a winning campaign infrastructure, Shapiro has deep roots in the district and a persuasive message that will help him win in November," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a release Thursday.

The DCCC stressed "it is not an endorsement," but the inclusion signals  belief that Shapiro is the strongest candidate to take on veteran Republican Buchanan. Shapiro is running in the Democratic primary against Jan Schneider of Sarasota.

Shapiro raised more than $400,000 in the second quarter and has $785,000 cash on hand. Buchanan, who has already been advertising on TV, has $2.5 million in the bank, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

But national Democrats, who think they have a chance at flipping the seat, could provide Shapiro with key resources.

"Red to Blue is a highly competitive and battle-tested program at the DCCC that arms top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns. Additionally, the DCCC provides strategic guidance, staff resources, candidate trainings, and more," the release said.