A reminder: As soon as Blue Dog/New Dem Cheri Bustos grabbed the DCCC chair for herself, she instituted an aggressive new policy aimed at progressives challenging Blue Dogs and New Dems (like herself).
Bustos officially declared that any campaign consultants, vendors, polling firms, strategists or operatives who worked for a campaign running against an incumbent would be blacklisted by the DCCC. (It’s worth noting that several dozen current members of Congress, including some who demanded the action from Bustos– like Henry Cuellar– were originally elected by challenging incumbents.)
The Chair immediately went on the offensive against Marie Newman’s campaign in a Chicagoland district occupied by anti-Choice, anti-gay, anti-healthcare, anti-immigrant, (face it, Anti-Woman) Blue Dog Dan Lipinski, one of the worst Democrats in Congress. Marie nearly beat him in 2018 when close to a million dollars in right wing sewer money– including from the Murdoch family– flooded into the district in a smear campaign orchestrated by Mark Penn and his wife Nancy Jacobson of No Labels. Perfect Cheri Bustos accomplices!
Newman– like all the Democratic candidates the DCCC is working against– supports the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-All, both of which Bustos and the DCCC work overtime to de-rail, counseling their approved candidates against both in no uncertain terms.
I checked in with some of the other candidates who back Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal and who have been under attack by the DCCC.
Mark Gamba, the progressive mayor of Milwaukie, is running for an Oregon congressional seat held by reactionary Blue Dog Kurt Schrader, a friend of Bustos’. Mark told me he had been gearing up his campaign for about 4 months when the DCCC struck:
“I had good conversations with consultants, fundraising and compliance firms… Nothing had been inked but I felt comfortable setting a date for my announcement. Within days of the DCCC edict, every single one of those dried up. That edict did exactly what the DCCC hoped for; it cost my campaign months to pull together a team of people who were unconcerned about what the DCCC thinks… He’s willing to take money from literally anyone; he said so himself when challenged at a local town hall about some of his donors.
The problems we face in America have been caused by the Republicans and the Democrats like Kurt Schrader: We are the only industrialized nation on earth that does not have universal health care. We spend more on our military industrial complex than the next 10 largest militaries in the world combined– six of which are our allies. We have more of our citizens incarcerated than any other country on earth. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are underfunded, more and more people are homeless every day and we have not done a damn thing about the greatest existential crisis that humankind has ever faced– Climate change.
By their decision, the DCCC has aided and abetted Congress people who are so interested in the corporate cash, they will never be part of the solution. We are going to win anyway; we have over a 1,000 people signed up to volunteer and small (non-corporate) donations are coming in from all over the country. Democracy is still alive and well in spite of the best efforts of the DCCC.”
Jessica Cisneros, the progressive attorney running in South Texas for a seat held by Trump’s-Dem Henry Cuellar said the DCCC, for all their bluster, was only been a minor inconvenience. She told me that when she was “in the process of hiring consultants, we kept running into people who would tell us ‘hey, we are rooting for you, but we signed the DCCC pledge so we can’t work with you.’ That meant we had fewer options to choose from, but in the end it didn’t prevent us from building out an incredibly talented team.”
The DCCC boycott of reform candidates has led to a new data base of progressive vendors willing to work on primaries despite the DCCC’s ban. They tend to be younger, more progressive and there are more women and people of color– groups that have had a tough time breaking into the DCCC old boys network of tired hacks anyway.
Waleed Shahid, Communications Director at Justice Democrats: “They kind of shot themselves in the foot. You had new, compelling candidates getting more people involved who want primary challenges like AOC and Ayanna, and then they come out with a policy that’s basically like ‘No more AOCs or Ayannas.’ It really galvanized progressives.”
Brianna Wu isn’t running for a seat held by a Blue Dog. Her conservative congressman in a Boston area district is a New Dem, just as bad. “When you think about corporate Democrats fighting progress, ” she said, “Stephen Lynch is the first person that should come to mind. Lynch voted against Obamacare and for the Iraq war. Lynch thinks we have 100 years to address climate change. Amazingly, Lynch has introduced bills that remove LGBT from hate crime protections. If Alabama can elect a Democrat to the Senate, Massachusetts can elect a real Democrats to the House.”
Several of these conservative incumbents have been so frightened by their own constituents that they’ve signed on as co-sponsors to legislation they have never backed. It’s almost comical to watch. Almost.