What the Democrat party has put in place to stop democracy is actively working.
In early April, the official campaign arm for House Democrats, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said it wouldn’t do business with political vendors — like direct mail companies, advertising firms, or political consultants — that also work for candidates challenging incumbent Democrats. They said it was an effort to protect incumbent Democrats, who they believe give the party’s best chance of keeping control in the House. Progressive lawmakers in Congress railed against what they saw as a “divisive” policy that effectively “blacklisted” groups and candidates.
Now, at least one candidate, Marie Newman — who is mounting a progressive primary challenge against moderate anti-abortion Rep. Dan Lipinski in one of the most hotly contested primaries in the 2020 election cycle — says the DCCC’s rule is actively hindering her ability to campaign.
“I’ve had four consultants leave the campaign,” Newman told Politico. “We’ve now had two mail firms say that they couldn’t work with us because of the DCCC issue, and then a [communications] group, a compliance group and several pollsters.”
Newman is a particularly noteworthy case. In 2018, she ran against Lipinski, an Illinois representative who is now in his eighth term, taking over from his father, as a first-time candidate with almost no name recognition, and almost won. Lipinski, one of the last remaining anti-abortion Democrats, eked out a two-point win in the primary. Now, Newman is running again, with a campaign that’s being championed by progressive activist groups.
This DCCC policy around political vendors has already caused friction within the party. When it was first made public, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the first-term progressive superstar, took to Twitter and told her nearly 3.8 million followers to “pause” their donations to the DCCC — the organization charged with keeping Democrats in the House majority.
“Give directly to swing candidates instead,” she tweeted, sharing the campaign websites of several of her vulnerable Democratic colleagues, who just won in previously Republican-controlled districts. Since, progressive lawmakers, and groups like the Bernie Sanders allied Our Revolution, have met with the DCCC chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill) to see if the organization is willing to change its mode of operation. Nothing’s happened so far.
That Newman says she’s now losing political consultants gives progressives more reason to fight with the party.
Progressives have been sounding the alarm bells about this policy all along.
Prioritizing incumbent Democrats is something the DCCC has always done. But in early April, the organization put it in writing, publishing its criteria for determining which political vendors it will do business with in 2020. And it made clear that won’t include vendors that work with candidates challenging incumbent Democrats.
The official policy change sparked outrage among House progressives, several of whom found their way to Congress by doing exactly what the DCCC appears to be discouraging: challenging sitting Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez is one extremely notable example. She beat out Joe Crowley, a New York Democratic Party boss who had even been tapped as a possible successor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Another is Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who beat out Boston Democrat Mike Capuano.
Both Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez, with the support of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, called the DCCC’s decision a “divisive” policy and an effort to “blacklist” groups.
The DCCC has pushed back on the term “blacklist.” There is no active list of Democratic political vendors that are banned from the DCCC right now, and this has always been the unspoken policy, one Democratic Party aide familiar with the guidelines told Vox then.
But progressive House members called out what they see as an exclusionary policy that could cut off important coalitions within the party