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-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (D-Mass.), two prominent House Democratic freshmen who beat incumbent Democrats, took aim at the policy announced by Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDemocrats ask Trump for evidence that medical supplies are available Annual Congressional Dinner pushed back to June amid coronavirus concerns Internal Democratic research shows Hispanics energized to vote in November 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) CrowleyStimulus price tag of .2T falls way short, some experts say Ocasio-Cortez set to make her first appearance on Fox News Progressive organizations throw support to Sanders ahead of Michigan primary 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) KhannaDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Defense Production Act urgently needed for critical medical gear 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order MORE (D-Calif.) called the policy "tone-deaf" in comments to The Intercept, while adding that he along with Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanWork Share: How to help workers, businesses and states all at once Students with disabilities could lose with COVID-19 stimulus package Overnight Defense: 'Tens of thousands' of National Guard troops could be activated for coronavirus response | Hospital ships could take week to deploy | Trump says military to help Americans stuck in Peru MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Critical supplies shortage hampers hospitals, health providers Washington state lawmakers warn health workers running low on protective gear 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 ThompsonPelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response Democrats introduce bill to set up commission to review coronavirus response Hillicon Valley: HHS hit by cyberattack amid coronavirus outbreak | Senators urge FCC to shore up internet access for students | Sanders ramps up Facebook ad spending | Dems ask DHS to delay Real ID deadline 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.”