Ocasio-Cortez hits House Democratic campaign arm after Pelosi endorses Kennedy

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) hit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Thursday over its policy to blacklist firms that work with candidates challenging Democratic incumbents in primaries. 

Her criticism came a short time after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s (D-Mass.) Senate bid. 

The policy, announced by the Democratic campaign arm earlier this year, blacklists any consulting firms that choose to work with primary challengers. The DCCC at the time told The Hill that the policy is meant to protect incumbents from outside challenges. 

Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive, has criticized the DCCC’s policy before, saying the House Democratic campaign arm is “cherry-picking” regarding its enforcement of the policy and suggested it’s only enforced to limit progressive challengers. 

“No one gets to complain about primary challenges again,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Thursday, in response to news of Pelosi endorsing Kennedy against incumbent Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). 

“So @dccc, when can we expect you to reverse your blacklist policy against primary orgs? Because between this & lack of care around @IlhanMN’s challenger, it seems like less a policy and more a cherry-picking activity,” Ocasio-Cortez added, referring to primary challenge against progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). 

Omar defeated her primary challenger, Antone Melton-Meaux, earlier this month. But her challenger had locked down several notable endorsements and had raised $3.2 million. 

“Ilhan’s multimillion challenge was bankrolled by DC lobbyists & dark money groups,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “He blatantly admitted to using shell corporations to get around the DCCC blacklist, which all but means his vendors work w/ the Democratic Party. Yet DCCC hasn’t enforced policy. I wonder why”

The DCCC declined to comment in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s Thursday tweet. 

In response to the pushback following Pelosi’s endorsement, her spokesman Drew Hammill noted Pelosi’s “consistent” support for House Democrats. 
“The Speaker has been consistent in her support for House Democrats — for their re-election efforts and for their bids for higher office, including Congressman Joe Kennedy for Senate,” Hammill said in a statement. 
Pelosi’s office also noted that the speaker endorsed Ocasio-Cortez and Omar in their recent primary races. 

The DCCC previously said it had offered support to all incumbents, including Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives who unseated incumbents in 2018. 

“We stand by all of our incumbents and will continue working with our members to ensure that we protect and expand the House majority in 2020,” DCCC spokesperson Robyn Patterson said in a statement to HuffPost in April.

The DCCC policy also appeared to have an impact on Melton-Meaux’s race against Omar. New Blue Interactive, a digital consulting firm founded by a former managing director of the DCCC, canceled its contract with Melton-Meaux and refunded the candidate’s money when it realized it had gone against the DCCC’s new rules, HuffPost reported.

Pelosi announced Thursday she is endorsing Kennedy in his challenge against Markey. Ocasio-Cortez has backed Markey’s reelection campaign. 

Justice Democrats, a progressive PAC, slammed Pelosi over her decision to endorse Kennedy after the group said she “stood by the DCCC’s policy” to blacklist firms that worked on primary challenges. 

“This move reeks of hypocrisy: the party is setting one standard for progressives and one entirely different standard for the establishment,” Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said in a statement.

This story was updated at 10:22 a.m. August 21.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez DCCC Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Ed Markey Ilhan Omar Joe Kennedy Joe Kennedy III Justice Democrats Massachusetts Nancy Pelosi primary challenge

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