Monday, April 08, 2019

Cheri Bustos-- A Bat Out Of Hell... In A Bad Way


If you're looking for someone to counter Bernie's statement above, who could be better than professional moderate and NationalJournal political editor Josh Kraushaar? His Sunday column was another predictable warning that the Democrats better abandon all the popular policies that won them the House last November and go back to being a GOP-lite corporate policy... or else. He has evidence. First, a conservative Democrat won a state Senate seat in western Pennsylvania. Would a less conservative Democrat have won as well? No doubt Kraushaar thinks not, although everyone I've spoken to there says it wouldn't have mattered who the Democrat was; people were voting against Trump. His second piece of evidence that Medicare-For-All, a $15 minimum wage, free public colleges and the Green New Deal should be jettisoned was that a conservative seems to have won-- it's really too close to call-- a statewide, non-partisan Supreme Court battle in Wisconsin, a state that just saw progressive Democrats win every single statewide race in Wisconsin. Of the 1,199,069 votes counted, just 5,960 votes (0.5%) separate the two candidates and not even Josh Kraushaar knows who the winner will be after the recount. But that didn't stop him from writing that "the lesson from these two concurrent races should be clear. One, Democrats can’t rely on mobilization alone to win elections. When they tack left to energize their base, they inevitably energize the other side even more. Persuading moderates and avoiding the alienation of the opposition are critical elements to success... [R]unning as woke culture warriors will be a losing strategy. The reality is that much of the country is less revolutionary than the youngest, most-progressive Democratic activists. Wisconsin Republicans rallied behind Hagedorn because they felt he was being punished over his religious beliefs." His religion, apparently, protects aggressive homophobia.

In his never-ending quest for a conservative Democratic Party, Kraushaar insists that "The main lesson of the 2018 midterms was that Democrats won back the House by nominating pragmatic candidates reflective of the centrist districts that they represent." Nevermind that they won on a national anti-red wave as voters rebuked Trump's extremism and forget that even many of the centrist Dems ran on deceptively progressive platforms.

NY Times reporter Catie Edmondson took it a step further yesterday in another piece on Cheri Bustos' war against democracy within the Democratic Party. Bustos, a wretched Blue Dog/New Dei from the right-leaning fringes of the Democratic Party is a protégée of Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC's new chair. She is already going down as the worst of a long series of terrible DCCC leaders. But I'm bet you anything she and Beltway stenographers like Kraushaar make a perfect closed loop. Edmonson noted yesterday that Bustos' committee "is nearing open warfare with the party’s rising liberal wing as political operatives close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to shut down primary challenges before what is likely to be a hard-fought campaign next year to preserve the party’s shaky majority." Bustos decided this is the best time to reassert the whole incumbent protection aspect of the DCCC, notes much to win the House as to guarantee that incumbents in deep blue districts never have to be accountable to anyone (other than the lobbyists and special interests that bribe them. Bustos is personally one of the most corrupt members of Congress.)

I've played this one before-- for the last couple of week (read 'em all here-- so let's see how Edmondson lays it out. She tells her readers that Progressive Dems were infuriated last month when Bustos, "moved to protect centrist incumbents by formally breaking committee business ties with political consultants and pollsters who go to work for primary challengers. AOC, she wrote, "who owes her seat to a successful primary challenge, went so far as to encourage her 3.8 million Twitter followers to 'pause' their donations to the campaign committee in protest. She also started a fund-raising push on her official Twitter account for Representatives Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, Katie Hill of California and Mike Levin of California. That initiative, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter, raised $30,000 in roughly two hours. She also helped raise money for Representatives Katie Porter of California and Lauren Underwood of Illinois."
The open hostilities are just the latest in the rising tensions between an experienced party establishment focusing on what is possible in the short run and a group of young liberals chafing at such restraint. House Democrats have divided over single-payer “Medicare for all” versus incremental legislation to bolster the Affordable Care Act and over Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal versus less ambitious climate change policies. Liberal Democrats and more moderate newcomers from Republican-leaning districts have fought over Republican procedural motions.

And divisions on health care, climate change, military spending and tax policy convinced the House Budget Committee chairman, John Yarmuth of Kentucky, last week to give up on drafting a budget that would have laid down a broad legislative agenda for the new Democrat-controlled House.

Now that tension has migrated to the mechanics of the 2020 campaign.

Ms. Bustos’s rule prohibits Democratic consultants and vendors working for a primary challenger to an incumbent from receiving work from the committee. It comes as ardent liberal organizations such as Justice Democrats, emboldened by a pair of high-profile wins in 2018-- Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez-- are aggressively gearing up to challenge centrist or old-line Democrats with liberal candidates.

In the latest swipe in a fight that has erupted into open hostilities, a coalition of progressive groups on Friday introduced an online database of go-to vendors for insurgent candidates emblazoned with the heading, “Despite the DCCC’s bullying, we’re still going to work on primaries.”

One group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said Friday that it was exploring a challenge against Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, because he has not committed to holding hearings on the single-payer health care system known as “Medicare for all.” At the helm of that panel, Mr. Neal has been on the front lines of conducting oversight on President Trump’s finances, and last week requested six years of his personal tax returns.

“We reject the DCCC’s attempt to hoard power, which will only serve to keep that talent pool-- and Congress itself-- disproportionately white and male,” María Urbina, the national political director for Indivisible, a progressive grass-roots group, said of the campaign committee. “Incumbents who engage fully with their constituents shouldn’t fear primaries and shouldn’t rely on the national institutions like the DCCC to suppress challenges before voters ever have a say.”

Party leaders and the campaign arm have stood by Ms. Bustos’s moves, arguing that the committee’s mandate is to protect the new majority by protecting incumbents-- and that putting a longstanding rule in writing simply increases transparency. Primary challenges, even in solid Democratic districts, harm the mission of holding the majority, they argue, because incumbents fighting a primary challenge cannot raise money and help other Democrats in more marginal districts.

“I support the notion that the primary purpose of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is to elect Democrats in tough districts, so we can either win the majority or hold the majority,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the No. 4 Democrat.

[NOTE: Edmondson is doing a good job here and I don't mean to take anything away from that, but this would be a good time to mention something the DCCC doesn't want to get out. Almost the only way to win a seat in a deep blue district like Jeffries' is to primary the incumbent-- which is what Jeffries did... three times, twice, unsuccessfully for a state legislative seat and then once for Congress.]

A spokesman for the committee said that Ms. Bustos, who hails from a Midwestern district that voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, was fulfilling a campaign promise she made to Democrats that as the chairwoman, she would support incumbents. And some at the campaign arm are frustrated that the codification of the longstanding policy has received more attention than the enforcement of a new rule that requires vendors to meet certain diversity standards, including employing more racially diverse, veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or disabled staff.

The new policy is unlikely to change. But the ire from the left flank may only grow.

“Primaries are often the only way that underrepresented and working-class people are able to have a shot at pursuing elected office,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think that it can reduce the odds of us getting really strong representation. We need to have kind of a farm system for the next generation.”

Other House Democrats, such as Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, are taking a cooler tone. But on Thursday, he could not resist a jab at Ms. Bustos on the radio program The Bill Press Show.

“We were trying to keep this in the family, but unfortunately this morning, I saw Cheri Bustos, after she asked us not to do it publicly, came out and decided to talk about it,” he said. “The progressive caucus doesn’t go out and recruit people to run against incumbents, but I think it looks awful for the Democratic Party to be undemocratic.”

“It’s the wrong path for us to be taking,” he continued. “This was a misguided action, and rather than review it, she’s trying to double down on it.”

The decision has pleased moderates and veterans in the more centrist New Democrat Coalition, in the Blue Dog Coalition, a fiscally conservative group of Democrats, and in the Congressional Black Caucus, who have been angered by some of the incumbents that outside liberal groups have chosen to target. Many of the candidates wooed in the last campaign cycle by Justice Democrats would have run in districts that lean Republican. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had to work hard to beat those challenges back, worried that a triumph by Justice Democrats in the primary would have cost the party a possible victory in the general election.

Defending the campaign arm’s decision, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, recalled a past primary against Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi.

Goal Thermometer“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,” Mr. Clyburn told National Journal. “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.”
Awwww... If Clyburn can't make the case, with all the resources available to him, that he should be reelected, then he shouldn't be. Time to move on and let someone who wins over your constituents take over. When Mike Honda was ousted by insurgent Democrat Ro Khanna-- I helped Honda defend himself against Khanna-- Honda called me and told me Khanna is a great guy and that I should get to know him. I have-- and Honda was right. Khanna is currently one of the four or five very best members of Congress. Primaries can do that! In any case, dozens and dozens of Democrats have won seats in the House by beating incumbents. It's very difficult to pull off and the DCCC shouldn't be making it even more difficult. If you agree, please help the progressive candidates running against reactionary Democratic incumbents this year in races where the DCCC is trying to bury the challengers. The thermometer above on the right will take you to the "Primary A Blue Dog" page. Click it now. Tell your friends about it. Come back as often as you can. In a few months there will be lots more candidates on it. We're busy vetting them now, to make sure that they're not just against the incumbent but that they have something positive to offer that's worth contributing to.

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At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DCCC doesn't care about my interests. Therefore I don't care about theirs. Loyalty is earned, not ordered.

At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so...the dccc will not allow a primary opponent for rep. Omar?

horse shit.

this is not meant to support all incumbents. it's meant to purify the caucus to being all reliable fascists who gladly take orders from the top.

amen to 10:46. I realized that in 1984.


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