Saturday, March 23, 2019

The DCCC Is A Powerful Source Of Great Evil And Corruption Inside The Democratic Party


The DCCC raised $11.6 million last month, more than they ever raised in any February-- even more than in any presidential election year! Tragically, online donors gave nearly $3 million, at an average contribution of $18 in February. Most of these donors have no idea they're feeding their money into the ravenous, bloody maw of Moloch.

Two stories came out yesterday that we must get into: Ally Mutnick's for National Journal--House Democrats Move to Hobble Primary Challengers-- and Akela Lacy's for The Intercept-- House Democratic Leadership Warns It Will Cut Off Any Firms Who Challenge Incumbents. But let me take you on a little tangent first. Eric Swalwell probably won't become president in 2020 but he's been edging closer to running. Beto, on the other hand, has a much better chance to become president. But if it had been up to Nancy Pelosi, both of these guys would have had their political careers smothered in their cribs-- or these two, as babies, fed right into Moloch's jaws. Both committed a sin Nancy Pelosi just does not countenance-- running a primary campaign against one of her allies. Pete Stark and Silvestre Reyes both represented deep blue, very safe districts, respectively with PVIs of D+20 and D+17. Incumbents in districts like these can go decades without every feeling any kind of accountability because of political vulnerability from a Republican. Only the fear of a primary challenge can keep them on their toes. Swalwell primaried Stark and Beto primaried Reyes and, as they always do, the DC Democratic establishment freaked out and tried to destroy both challengers. That's what they do; that's what they always do. Because they're fuckers. [This blog started in 2004 and I don't recall having ever used that word before, except once to note that Tom DeLay was, in his day, a notorious pig-fucker-- although I would point out that a "fucker" and a "pig-fucker" are two entirely different descriptions.] I also how furiously the leadership fought to defend corrupt insiders like Al Wynn and Tim Holden when Donna Edwards and Matt Cartwright primaried them. This is standard Democratic House leadership modus operandi.

In the wake of spectacular victories by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley against powerful, entrenched incumbents, some of today's unaccountable insiders are in serious threat of primaries, including top Pelosi lieutenants like Richard Neal (D-MA), the corrupt chairman of the immensely powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

OK, tangent over. Let's get right into Mutnick's report that the DCCC "rolled out new hiring standards to deter firms from working with candidates who run against incumbents... [in] an an early move to deter primary challenges against sitting incumbents in the caucus with a new policy aimed in part at protecting the new majority." How about the old policy of protecting their own asses?
The campaign arm on Friday sent out a list of hiring standards to more than 100 political firms, including one provision that made clear it will neither contract with nor recommend to House candidates any political vendors that work to oust sitting members of Congress. That offers key protection to the caucus’s moderate members in battleground seats, where House control will be won or lost.

It is intended to help stymie attempts by insurgent progressive groups who plan to primary incumbents deemed insufficiently liberal on key issues, but also to shield members of the party's ascendant liberal wing who represent safe Democratic territory and could face intraparty challenges of their own.

"The core mission of the DCCC is electing House Democrats, which includes supporting and protecting incumbents,” the committee wrote in a memo.

The new protocol, intentionally debuted early in the off-year before most campaign hiring begins, presents a stark financial deterrent to the country’s top firms that provide essential services ranging from polling to TV advertising to strategy. It could cripple would-be primary opponents’ ability to entice top talent to join their staff. The DCCC independent-expenditure arm doles out millions in contracts to consultants and drives more revenue toward them by connecting campaigns with vetted operatives.

“The DCCC is often times the gatekeeper for consultants to get to candidates,” said Ian Russell, a campaign media strategist and former top official at the committee. “Unless you have a steady stream of income coming from another source, it would be very difficult to navigate the House world if you were shut out by the DCCC.”

...The change is likely to spark backlash from the constellation of liberal groups that are plotting against incumbents. Their central argument is that primary challenges are healthy for the party and bring in crucial perspectives, particularly from young women of color.

"The DCCC can do anything it wants to try to prevent the next generation of Democrats from taking power. They will not succeed," said Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress, which is helping recruit primary challengers. He said his group would help those opponents find firms with which to work: "There are plenty."

Alexandria and Goliath by Nancy Ohanian

The midterms demonstrated not all campaigns needed large-scale operations to be successful. Now-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ousted then-House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley on a relatively bare bones campaign budget in a low-turnout David-and-Goliath race.

...In practice, some prominent Democratic firms already have an internal policy not to work against incumbents, consultants said.

But other political outfits haven't shied away from it. They could not do so again without penalty.

Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts lost a primary bid for his eleventh term to Ayanna Pressley, who hired both AKPD Message & Media, which was founded by consultants that worked for Obama's two campaigns, and Anzalone Liszt Grove, a top-tier Democratic polling outfit.

And in suburban Chicago, Rep. Dan Lipinski, a Democrat who opposes abortion rights, nearly lost to Marie Newman, a progressive challenger who worked with Mothership Strategies, a firm also used by DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos.

Cheri and Rahm (not photo-shopped)

The standards are largely preemptive and will not retroactively apply to firms that worked with primary challengers in past cycles.

Newman is exploring a 2020 rematch, and received help from abortion rights groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America. Individual firms that work for an outside group on a campaign against an incumbent would not be penalized, a DCCC official said.

Both Newman and Pressley challenged members in safe Democratic districts that would not threaten their party's majority. So far, liberal groups, such as the Justice Democrats and Data for Progress, have largely trained their efforts on incumbents in Democratic territory, like Cuellar and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts.

This policy could stifle similar attempts in competitive districts, though it may not deter those who are already prepared to wage underdog campaigns. At least one swing-seat Democrat will face such a primary opponent.

Eva Putzova, a former Flagstaff city councilwoman who waged a successful effort there to raise the minimum wage, plans to run to the left of Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a Republican-turned-Democrat who holds a sprawling rural Arizona district that Trump carried in 2016.

Putzova is in talks with progressive organizations, including Democracy for America and Brand New Congress, and said she’s not concerned that establishment groups sometimes ignore her attempts to reach out. Putzova said she's hired a Phoenix-based firm to help with fundraising.

“I’m choosing partners who we are on the same page with politically,” Putzova said in an interview this week. “We don’t have to rely on the Democratic Party usuals.”
Akela Lacy also noted in her Intercept piece that "It’s no secret that the DCCC and national party leaders often interfere on behalf of preferred candidates... The DCCC is known for prioritizing candidates and direct them to its own consultants, most of whom are alumni of the DCCC, which is known in Washington as a 'consultant factory.'" It's part of DC's thoroughly corrupt revolving door which somehow didn't get addressed in Pelosi's much-vaunted and doomed HR-1 hullabaloo.
D-trip’s claims its top priority is protecting the majority, and that in order to do so, they must keep internal discord at a minimum. But as progressive candidates, organizers, and members build grassroots campaigns and prove they can hold their own, the D-trip’s old playbook is having the opposite effect.

The strategy isn’t new. Though it did bring a few more hiccups in 2018 than expected, which makes the rollout all the more puzzling. “There was never an enforcement that I’ve ever seen,” the strategist told The Intercept. “This is the first time that they are ever making it open policy.”

After their coordinated attack on Laura Moser in Texas’s 7th District, she raised $86,000, got an endorsement from Our Revolution, and made it to a runoff. She eventually lost to current Rep. Lizzie Fletcher. But the episode gave fodder to progressive groups like the Working Families Party, Justice Democrats, and Collective PAC, which had formed for precisely that occasion-- the party’s increasing inability to make space for new voices, many of them progressive. D-trip proved their point, and Our Revolution and WFP stepped in instead.

And in Nebraska’s 2nd District, the DCCC backed former Rep. Brad Ashford over Kara Eastman, who ended up winning the primary and losing the general election. Ashford was a former Republican who flip-flopped on access to abortion throughout his time in the state legislature and later as a Democrat in the U.S. House, and opposed single-payer healthcare. Eastman was a staunchly pro-choice progressive who supported Medicare for All. She was one of only two insurgents to beat DCCC-backed candidates last cycle. In the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 6th District, Amy McGrath beat Jim Gray, and later lost to Republican Rep. Andy Barr. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is now recruiting her to run against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020.

Strategists and congressional staffers with knowledge of the change say it will disproportionately impact vendors and candidates who are women and people of color, as the consultants who work with incumbents are the ones who’ve come up through the party at a time when its commitment to diversity was even dimmer than it is today.

The committee is telling firms they can’t oppose sitting members, the strategist said. “I’d rather keep the majority too, which is why to me this is kind of stupid to have a blanket rule. Because, if it’s a safe incumbent seat, why does it matter?”

The DCCC’s move also creates a new niche business, paradoxically, opening the door for consultants who don’t want to be under the thumb of the party. “From here on out let’s refer to the DCCC for what it is, the White Male Centrist Campaign Protection Committee (WMCCPC),” said Sean McElwee of Data for Progress. “My e-mail is Any challenger looking for firms to work with them can feel free to reach out. There are plenty.”

Rebecca Katz, a longtime Democratic consultant, also said she’d be happy to work with the challengers. “The people who can’t understand the Party is stronger because we have Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley in Congress should not be in the business of choosing who can run for Congress,” she said.

Alex Rojas, the head of Justice Democrats, the bane of the DCCC, is backing a primary challenge to incumbent Henry Cuellar in Texas, while looking for other candidates across the country. “Make no mistake-- they are sending a signal that they are more afraid of Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning primary challenges than Henry Cuellar who votes with Trump nearly 70 percent of the time,” she said.

For both parties, campaigns are a big business, and it has created an ecosystem that feeds those within it, and starves those outside of it. “The Democratic and Republican parties are commercial enterprises and they’re very much interested in their own survival,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) previously told The Intercept. “The money race is probably more important to them than the issues race in some cases.” The main beneficiaries are the consultants in the good graces of party leadership. “It’s a commercial enterprise,” said Lynch.
This is the kind of pernicious garbage the DCCC is seeking to protect from accountability

My biggest worry is that the DCCC will feel a sense of empowerment when they get away with this and then start systematically applying it against progressives running in primaries where the DCCC is trying to put a conservative in place to face the Republican. Not that that doesn't already happen. One progressive Democrat who ran for Congress recently, but he chose to remain anonymous in this instance told me that when he "made a job offer to a well-liked organizer from the district, word got out. Within 6 hours he was getting  job offers from incumbent Representatives, and threats that he would never work again if he supported my campaign. (He took the job anyway.) The sad truth is that DCCC operatives and incumbents don't support Democratic primaries. They will seek to load the dice every time. On the bright side, they've been doing this all along. So I guess there's something to be said for transparency?"

Goal ThermometerOne former U.S. Senate candidate-- also on condition of anonymity-- told me that "it’s very true. I had several vendors, including two former vendors of our own, tell me that they wouldn’t work with my Senate campaign because I was going against a party pick, and they expected repercussions if they did. In fact, our former direct mail vendor wouldn’t even give us our own lists. And I had one quit in mid-campaign after receiving a phone call about it. They [the DCCC] also used a carrot, offering party work to one vendor if he dropped me." By the way, this might be a good time to ask you to visit the Blue America Primary A Blue Dog page; just click on the ActBlue thermometer on the right.

The PCCC is one of the independent progressive groups furious over the DCCC's new rule and quoted Frank Luntz in an e-mail to their members: "This policy would’ve blacklisted anyone who worked on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary campaign last year." They continued, explaining that "Dems in blue districts who oppose Medicare For All. Right now, some old-timer House Democrat committee chairs in deep blue districts are blocking action on Medicare For All. This past week, the PCCC publicly said we would support primaries to them if their obstruction continues. (Remember the name Richie Neal from Massachusetts.) To move issues we care about in Congress, primaries matter. In 2018, bold progressive Marie Newman ran against Dem Congressman Dan Lapinski in a blue Illinois district Hillary Clinton won by 15%. Lipinski serves as co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, voted against Obamacare, and is a corporate conservative Blue Dog Democrat. Marie came 1% away from winning the primary, she's running to finish the job, and the DCCC is trying to block consultants who want to help put a real Democrat in this seat."

Adriel Hampton, a prominent California political strategist and advertising consultant, told me that "In 2016, San Francisco progressives were evaluating a strong 2018 challenge to then-Leader Nancy Pelosi. However, simply finding a polling vendor was impossible-- not insurgent professionals, not even national robo-pollers. They said they would lose DCCC business. Three first-time Democratic candidates went on to challenge Pelosi, splitting the left and allowing a Republican to squeak into the top-two primary (a first-time independent candidate faced Pelosi in the 2016 General Election). So this isn't news to Californians, and yes, incumbent protection works and stifles the debate. It is especially galling in a top-two state like California where two Democrats can and do appear on the general election ballot together-- it is how Reps. Swalwell and Khanna won their seats.

A prominent progressive congresswoman pointed out that "What’s missing is any sense that the best vendors should get the work. As far as I know, the DCCC never does any post-mortem to determine which vendors were effective and which were not. Instead, they just keep the door spinning at the DCCC revolving door. I used one of their vendors once, to make an ad that required a technique our own media person didn’t know how to do. The [expletive deleted] clearly was loyal to the DCCC, not me. When the ad was finished and I made suggestions on improving his TV buy given what we knew from our polling, he complained to the DCCC about me." It's a refrain we've heard here at DWT over and over for years.

Another candidate who decided to stay anonymous, is running against a well-entrenched Democratic screwball who he's likely to beat. "The DCCCʻs mission," he said, "should be flipping red seats to blue seats. Going up against an incumbent is never easy which is why the DCCC should leave those campaigns up to the grassroots efforts of the congressional districts, especially in safe blue seats. Again, the focus should be on putting Democrats in Congress and sending Republicans packing, not meddling in primaries."

Tom Wakely, a long-time progressive Texas activist, who ran for Congress and for governor without the backing of the party establishment, is no fan of the DCCC. "When you have someone like Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar here in Texas who votes more often with Republicans than Democrats he is a legitimate target for a primary challenge," he told us this morning. "I believe the DCCC is out-of-touch with what is going on in red states like Texas. If they had, as we would say down here in the Lone Star state, the cojones to do something, they would back progressive primary challenges against conservative Democrats all across the South and Southwest rather than punishing those who believe the time for meaningful change is long past due."


Tom Guild's supporters are urging him to challenge Blue Dog freshman Kendra Horn-- one of the worst Dems in the House-- to a primary this year. I asked him what he thought of Bustos' "new" party rules. "The DCCC is trying to play God in intraparty affairs," he answered. "The party shouldn’t be a dictatorship, but a democratic institution. To blackball consultants or consulting firms that assist congressional house candidates running against incumbents is just wrong on so many levels. I’m not high on consultants to begin with, but they should be able to work for candidates of their choice without being punished by a formal arm of the Democratic Party. Not all incumbents are good. Not all incumbents vote like they should. Not all incumbents embrace the party platform. Not all incumbents should be protected. Not all consultants hired by non-incumbent candidates should be punished. This is Trumpism at its worst. He’s the one systematically trying to destroy basic American institutions. The DCCC can’t fight Trump on the one hand and put forth Trump-like authoritarian and unfair edicts on the other hand. What the DCCC is doing will weaken the party, reduce their contributions, and leave progressives and other Democrats outside the tent pissing in, instead of inside the tent pissing out. When will they ever learn?"

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At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this keeps up, 2020 will look a whole lot like 2010 - only the results will be so much worse. Both parties no longer care about the welfare of the nation, only the power they seek to take as much as they can and avoid any consequences. The people will no longer see much value in supporting either of them.

Once popular support is lost, they won't go away. They will resort to force and coercion. After all, the Constitution IS already just a piece of paper.

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

The Establishment is so backasswards it's not even funny & you just hit something on your article which had me thinking Howie this is more than money & power it's the fear they're feared their status quo are begin challenged from the progressive groups etc & don't want to lose their grip unreal.

At 6:44 AM, Blogger tony in san diego said...

geez, you guys sound like Democratic Trumps: fuck the Establishment, vote for new, wild populists, who are the only ones who can make America Great Again. Who would you have preferred to face down Trump during the shut-down?

At 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, they caved in the shutdown, giving trump a lot of wall money. They did not face anyone down. The video of that famous meeting? It was scummer pissing himself and nancy not knowing she was alive.

"The DCCC can do anything it wants to try to prevent the next generation of Democrats from taking power. They will not succeed,"

They HAVE succeeded. You think AOC is a trend? If you could point to 50 or 75 such instances, maybe I'd be less cynical about the PARTY. But you can't come up with more than a handful of these. Fact is, nearly all such insurgencies are "Falluja'd" by the DCCC ('smothered in their crib' in your vernacular) quite easily (by spending money).

Another piece proving beyond any doubt that the democraps are "a powerful source of evil" and are putting in place internal structure to guarantee that change CANNOT HAPPEN.

But, dear DWT, what will your plea be, again and still, next November? I don't need to type it. You'll do it for me, won't you?

The schizophrenia re-emerges.

At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would rewrite your premise as: The democrap party is a great source of evil and corruption, and today, one appendage (the DCCC) is proving it in spades.

It's more accurate and complete this way. After all, the appendages (both DxCCs and the DNC) have already proved it many times, without exception, for 40 years. Jones will be a senator for 4 more years; sinema was hand-picked by scummer; manchin was supported through a minor insurgent primary... Now the DCCC is rigging the rules to keep out AOCs in the future... And the DNC still has the convention rigged by keeping superdelegates, totally tipping the scale for whichever whore they choose.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger tony in san diego said...

evil???? get over your bad self!

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

corruption? service to corporations at the expense of the masses and the commons? austerity? wars? destruction of the constitution? lying to their electorate? rigging elections? election fraud?

'evil' is not a stretch. not quite Nazi sized evil. but still evil.


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