Progressives hammer DCCC over blacklist targeting primary challenges

Several Democratic lawmakers criticized a new policy announced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to blacklist any consulting firms that choose to work with Democrats attempting to defeat sitting members of the party in primary elections.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Goya CEO dismisses critics for praise of Trump: 'I'm not apologizing' Trump tweets his support for Goya Foods amid boycott MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyPressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressives zero in on another House chairman in primary MORE (D-Mass.), two prominent House Democratic freshmen who beat incumbent Democrats, took aim at the policy announced by Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosTime for a Democratic reckoning on race  Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts MORE (D-Ill.) in tweets accusing the DCCC of trying to stifle the flow of new members into the party.

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In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley beat former Reps. Joe CrowleyJoseph (Joe) CrowleyBowman declares victory over Engel in New York primary as votes still counted Progressives riding high as votes tabulated in NY, Kentucky The Hill's Campaign Report: Primary night in Kentucky and New York MORE (D-N.Y.) and Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoInside the progressive hunt for vulnerable House Democrats Progressive mayor launches primary challenge to top Ways and Means Democrat Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (D-Mass.), respectively.

Ocasio-Cortez called for a halt to small-dollar donations to the DCCC until the policy was lifted.

"The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party," Ocasio-Cortez wrote Saturday. "My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead."

Pressley said the policy would disproportionately hurt women and people of color.

"If the DCCC enacts this policy to blacklist vendors who work with challengers, we risk undermining an entire universe of potential candidates and vendors - especially women and people of color - whose ideas, energy, and innovation need a place in our party," Pressley wrote in a lengthy thread about the issue.

"[W]e cannot credibly lay claim to prioritizing diversity & inclusion when institutions like the DCCC implement policies that threaten to silence new voices and historically marginalized communities," she added.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSome in Congress want to keep sending our troops to Afghanistan House panel votes to limit Trump's Germany withdrawal It's time to eliminate land-based nuclear missiles MORE (D-Calif.) called the policy "tone-deaf" in comments to The Intercept, while adding that he along with Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary Celebrities fundraise for Markey ahead of Massachusetts Senate primary MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE (D-Wash.) had spoken with Bustos this week to indicate their firm opposition to the policy.

“Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan, and I met with Cheri Bustos to make it clear that we strongly oppose her new policy that stifles competition and blackballs any consultant who works for a challenger," Khanna told The Intercept.

"This unprecedented grab of power is a slap in the face of Democratic voters across the nation. It’s something even Rahm Emanuel would not have done and is totally tone-deaf to the grassroots activists across our nation," he added. 

"Voters are sick of the status quo holding on to power and stifling new voices. They are sick of D.C. politicians who care more about holding on to power than a true competition of ideas."

In a statement to The Hill, a DCCC spokesman said that the policy was aimed at protecting all members of the caucus from any types of challenges.

“When Chairwoman Bustos was running to lead the DCCC, she stood up in front of her colleagues and made a promise to stand with and protect every Member of the most diverse caucus in Congressional history as we work to defend and grow our Democratic majority," Cole Leiter told The Hill.

"This transparent policy follows through on that exact promise and will protect all Members of the Democratic Caucus - regardless of where they fall within our big tent," Leiter added.

Democratic House majority whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also defended the policy in an interview with National Journal, asserting that it was "wrong" for the DCCC to give any money to firms that would work with candidates who would challenge Democrats in primaries.

“An African-American got in the race against him running to his right and then he looked up and there was this Democratic pollster working for his opponent,” Clyburn said, referencing a past primary against Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonState legislatures consider US Capitol's Confederate statues House eyes votes to remove symbols of Confederates from Capitol House to vote on removing bust of Supreme Court justice who wrote Dred Scott ruling MORE (D-Miss.). “He’s paying dues to the DCCC who’s giving a contract to that person and then that person ended up working for that opponent. There’s something wrong with that.”