Former Yale College Democrats President Lex Paulson ’02 was elected national vice president of the College Democrats of America yesterday, placing him in the national spotlight during a year that promises a hard-fought battle between the major parties for control of Congress.

The student arm of the Democratic National Committee, the College Democrats of America is the link between college students and the nation’s top Democratic governing body.

“It’s the umbrella organization for all college Democrats organizations in the country,” Paulson said. “We connect college Democrats with the DNC’s resources.”

Paulson, 21, who founded and now heads the Connecticut College Democrats, beat out Colmon Elridge, a student from Kentucky. He will hold the position on the organization’s six-member executive board for a year. Ashley Bell, a student at Valdosta State University in Georgia, will serve as the organization’s president.

Paulson said he will continue to serve as head of the Connecticut College Democrats, but will commute between New Haven and his hometown of Washington, D.C., for meetings.

“One of the reasons I ran for the office was to give a national voice to what we’ve been doing here in Connecticut,” he said. “This is obviously something I’m balancing with my other political commitments.”

Samantha Jay, the Yale College Dems’ current president, said she trusts Paulson to get the job done.

“He was president of the Yale College Democrats while we were going through the national elections and he did a good job,” Jay said. “And I think he’ll do a good job in this new position.”

The DNC helps the college Democrats target the nation’s most competitive Congressional races. This year, Democrats need to pick up six seats to gain control of the House of Representatives.

In Connecticut, Paulson said, Democrats have a good chance to unseat two Republicans — 2nd District Rep. Rob Simmons and 4th District Rep. Christopher Shays.

Democrats and Republicans will also battle for control of a new district in northwestern Connecticut that combines Democrat James H. Maloney’s 5th District and Republican Nancy L. Johnson’s 6th District. The seat was created during redistricting negotiations after the state lost a vote in Congress because its population grew more slowly than those of other states.

“Because things are so closely divided nationally, what we do in Connecticut will have a large effect on the national level as well,” said Paulson, who majors in political science.