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-CortezOmar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Ocasio-Cortez calls out Democrats for refusing to impeach Trump Ocasio-Cortez reveals new policies for campaign aides with children MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDemocrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' MORE (D-Mass.), two prominent House Democratic freshmen who beat incumbent Democrats, took aim at the policy announced by Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosHere are the Democrats who aren't co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban GOP struggles with retirement wave DCCC names new head after mass staff departure 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) CrowleyOcasio-Cortez endorses challenger to Democrat Lipinski in Illinois race Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff to leave her office 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) KhannaMarkey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes MORE (D-Calif.) called the policy "tone-deaf" in comments to The Intercept, while adding that he along with Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanDemocrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Omar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalProgressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan Pelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan Democrats ignore Asian American and Pacific Islander voters at their peril 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: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Homeland Security chairman calls on new Trump aide to reestablish cyber coordinator House Democrat urges Trump to address online extremism at UN 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.”