Less than a week after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it would blacklist vendors that work with candidates who primary incumbent House Democrats, new members who found success in that very strategy are pushing back, calling the policy “extremely divisive” and warning it would undermine women and people of color.
Over the weekend, House Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Ro Khanna of California challenged the DCCC’s new policy refusing to hire political vendors that work with candidates seeking to challenge Democratic incumbents.
The policy, which has reportedly already manifested itself in political consultants dropping out of a primary challenger’s nascent 2020 campaign, works to scare off vendors by threatening their access to the DCCC’s independent-expenditure arm, which pays millions in contracts and connects vendors to other Democratic opportunities resources.
Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated former Rep. Joe Crowley last year, called for small-dollar donations to “swing candidates” on Saturday, invoking a few candidates such as California Reps. Mike Levin and Katie Porter, and Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood. Ocasio-Cortez even went as far as to tell supporters not to give any money to the DCCC at all.
“The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead.”
That same day, Pressley tweeted about her own experience in challenging an incumbent representative, and how people were told to stay away from her campaign because of it. As a result of the DCCC’s new policy, Pressley, who defeated former Rep. Mike Capuano, argued that Democrats risk “undermining an entire universe of potential candidates and vendors—especially women and people of color—whose ideas, energy, and innovation need a place in our party.”
“I believe fiercely in the potential of our party, but we 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,” Pressley tweeted.
Khanna told CNN in a statement on Sunday that the DCCC’s policy “is the kind of policy protecting the Washington establishment that plays directly into Trump’s hands,” and that chairwoman Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos is allowing the DCCC to blacklist candidates like himself. Khanna defeated former Rep. Mike Honda in 2016.
It seems that these appeals, two from some of the most visible Democratic freshmen, mean nothing to the DCCC, which unequivocally shrugged. “This transparent policy follows through on that exact promise and will protect all Members of the Democratic Caucus — regardless of where they fall within our big tent,” DCCC spokesperson Cole Leiter said.
Chances are this won’t be the last time the party’s left-wing clashes with the DCCC—especially considering that moderates are already strategizing their revenge for the last round.