House Democratic campaign chief defends efforts to keep big tent for party

House Democratic campaign chief defends efforts to keep big tent for party
© Greg Nash

The head of House Democrats' campaign arm is defending her decisions to help incumbents after canceling plans to attend a fundraiser for anti-abortion Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.).

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosHouse Democrats' campaign arm raises over million in second quarter Lawmakers join Nats Park fundraiser for DC kids charity Democratic leaders seek balance amid liberal push to go big on immigration MORE (Ill.) defended efforts to maintain a big tent for the party in an interview with The Washington Post, saying it is up to each candidate to manage his or her district.

“Everybody has to navigate their own district, and who am I to prescribe how anybody does that?” she said. “I just think, our core values as Democrats, we’re pretty much on the same page. We want to make sure that people have opportunities to do better.”

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She told the newspaper that it is helpful to have people of varying ideologies in the party to help Democrats win swing districts and maintain their majority in the House, where they currently control all committees.

“We lose 17 seats, and we don’t have a majority anymore. That’s pretty fragile,” she said, pointing out that 31 Democrats were elected in districts won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE in 2016.

“Who are they to say what the litmus test is?” she said of those on the party’s left. “Who is anybody to say?”

Lipinski's district, however, was won by former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Majority of Democratic voters happy with their choices among 2020 contenders No presidential candidate can unite the country GOP lawmakers speak out against 'send her back' chants MORE in 2016. His fundraiser, which Bustos pulled out of last month over his position on abortion, is scheduled for Thursday.

Lipinski is being challenged in the primary by Democrat Marie Newman, who has received support from progressive groups, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. 

Bustos has also faced criticism over a DCCC policy to not give contracts to political firms that do work for primary challengers.

The campaign head told the Post that the DCCC set fundraising records after the consultant rule.

“I’m very competitive. I’m very driven. I pride myself on being honest and inclusive,” Bustos said. “And I welcome anybody within our caucus to do the same thing.”