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-CortezThe Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats Republican wins special House election in Pennsylvania WHIP LIST: Dems who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyWHIP LIST: Dems who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump Freshman Dem lawmaker argues with Ben Carson after he tries to reclaim time in hearing Dem Sen. Markey faces potential primary challenge in Massachusetts MORE (D-Mass.), two prominent House Democratic freshmen who beat incumbent Democrats, took aim at the policy announced by Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosMore Dems press Pelosi on impeachment proceedings: reports Democratic House campaign arm says it raised .85 million in April Dem rep: You can't be a Democrat if you don't support abortion, LGBTQ rights MORE (D-Ill.) in tweets accusing the DCCC of trying to stifle the flow of new members into the party.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley beat former Reps. Joe CrowleyJoseph (Joe) CrowleyPelosi, Clinton among attendees at memorial reception for Ellen Tauscher Dems walk Trump trade tightrope The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - After GOP infighting, Trump Jr. agrees to testify again MORE (D-N.Y.) and Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoDem Sen. Markey faces potential primary challenge in Massachusetts Chris Evans: 'If you're not worried about Roe v Wade, you're not paying attention' Hillary Clinton celebrates Indivisible founders' inclusion on Time 100 list 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) KhannaThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push House progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna: 'I'm not there yet' on impeachment MORE (D-Calif.) called the policy "tone-deaf" in comments to The Intercept, while adding that he along with Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats House Democrats press leaders to start Trump impeachment WHIP LIST: Dems who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push WHIP LIST: Dems who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump Muslim lawmakers host Ramadan iftar to break fast at Capitol 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 ThompsonHillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact Huawei officials say they would 'welcome' US ban on tech posing national security risk 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.”