College Democrats at over 40 schools boycott DCCC over pro-incumbent policy

College Democrats at over 40 schools boycott DCCC over pro-incumbent policy
© Stefani Reynolds

Young Democrats at more than 30 colleges nationwide plan to boycott the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in protest of a new policy critics say is intended to freeze out challengers to incumbent representatives.

The policy, launched in late March, would require consultants and strategists to pledge not to work for candidates challenging a sitting Democratic member of Congress or be left off a list of vendors approved to work with the DCCC.

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The Harvard College Democrats are leading the coalition, which initially featured 26 chapters nationwide but which Harvard Democrats President Hank Sparks confirmed to The Hill currently stands at 42. Participants include groups based at Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Michigan State University, Rutgers University-Newark, University of Virginia and Spelman College.

“Primary challengers are essential to ensure that the Democratic Party is continually held accountable to the needs of our constituents. This blacklist policy is undemocratic and antithetical to our values of inclusion and diversity,” the Harvard Democrats said in a letter Wednesday. “Challengers to incumbents have been essential to making the Democratic Party an institution that truly reflects the progressive values and diverse identities of the people it claims to represent.”

When reached for comment, a spokesman for the DCCC told The Hill in a statement that the group is “proud of its historic work, flipping 43 formerly Republican seats and electing the most diverse caucus in American history."

"And as Democrats in the House combat Republicans’ attacks on Americans’ health care, take on special interests in Washington, and fight for an economy that works for everyday Americans, we are already well into our work to fortify this newly won House Majority and take the fight even deeper into ruby-red districts come 2020,” spokesman Cole Leiter said.

Leiter also told The Hill characterizations of the DCCC as seeking to stymie progressive candidates were inaccurate, saying that in the 2018 midterms, the DCCC spent a total of nearly $26 million to elect candidates who would later join the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
 
The DCCC policy opposed by College Democrats chapters has drawn the ire of the party’s progressive flank in Congress. 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.), both of whom were elected in 2018 after defeating longtime incumbents in their respective primaries, have spoken out against it.

The coalition’s letter cites Pressley’s comments that Democrats “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.”

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) Gaetz2020 on my mind: Democrats have to think like Mitch McConnell Harris knocks Gaetz for taking issue with money for Howard in relief package Critics hit Florida governor over lack of 'sweeping' coronavirus response MORE (R-Fla.), one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE’s most vocal supporters in Congress, echoed their critique, tweeting, “General elections determine whether your party gets power. Primaries determine what you’ll use it for.”

– Updated at 4:55 p.m.