A Challenger Appears for the Title of Worst Democrat in Congress

Gottheimer (left) meets with Trump in 2017
Photo: Getty

It is hard to beat Illinois congressman Dan Lipinski for the coveted title of Worst Democrat in Congress, given his positions on abortion and healthcare. But a challenger has emerged: Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, the subject of an extensive Intercept profile today.

The meat of the piece details Gottheimer’s extensive connections to lobbying firms that represent Saudi Arabia—he was “among the top recipients of cash from those firms’ lobbyists and lawyers” last cycle, despite only being in Congress since 2017—and his attempts to undermine a Democratic resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi war on Yemen, which has put millions in a humanitarian crisis. Gottheimer “organized behind the scenes to take the resolution down, in part by attempting to make it a referendum on support for Israel.”

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He failed. When push came to shove, Gottheimer was only able to secure four votes for his maneuver.

But perhaps the most bonkers part of the piece comes at the beginning. An anecdote relayed by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who met with Gottheimer soon after being sworn in earlier this year, reveals Gottheimer berated Tlaib and also confused her with other Democrats:

Gottheimer pulled out the binder, opening it to show Tlaib the contents. It was a collection of printed-out articles, with quotes and other lines highlighted. “He goes through them, ‘you said this, you said that,’ confusing me with other colleagues,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib said she tried to reach Gottheimer on a personal level, telling him about her grandmother, who lives in occupied Ramallah. He wasn’t interested. “He was using a very stern tone, like a father to a child. At that moment, I realized he’s a bully,” said Tlaib. “He had a goal of breaking me down. I left feeling exactly that way.”

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Isn’t it funny how centrist and moderate Democrats are allowed to be condescending and shitty to the freshmen while also telling the freshmen not to attack their colleagues? Funny. Very funny.

He’s also part of a small cadre of centrists dedicated to undermining Pelosi’s leadership—again, while escaping the scolding that representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez receive for criticizing leadership from the left, which is something AOC touched on in response to the piece:

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Gottheimer and his fellow Democrats in the No Labels-affiliated centrist Problem Solvers Caucus, you may recall, were early proponents of the effort to unseat Pelosi as Democratic leader soon after the November election. Again, failed.

Yes, Gottheimer has a record of faceplants on these machinations against the party. But it’s nevertheless troubling that he’s in Congress, is so deeply connected to Saudi money, and, presumably, is protected by the DCCC’s ban on their vendors working with any Democratic primary challengers—just like Dan Lipinski. Good system, Democrats. You guys nailed it.

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About the author

Libby Watson

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com