The DCCC's Strategy to Kill Primary Challenges Is Reportedly Already Working

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a plan to prevent another Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-type incumbent challenger from ever succeeding again, and it appears to be already working.

At least it is according to to Monica Klein, the founder of New York-based Seneca Strategies, a political consulting firm that worked with Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for New York governor as a client. On Monday, The Intercept published an op-ed by Klein titled “The DCCC Is Trying to Put Me Out of Business — and I’m a Democrat.”


The whole piece is worth a read, but this particular bit of information in the lede is especially eye-popping:

Six hours after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it was blacklisting firms that work with primary challengers, I met with a potential client who was considering a Democratic primary. The client told me that two consultants dropped out that morning — and now the candidate may not run at all.*


*Editor’s note: A reporter with The Intercept spoke with the candidate in question and confirmed the resignation of two key consulting firms just ahead of the potential launch of a congressional campaign against a Democratic incumbent.


This “blacklisting” that Klein is referring to is the DCCC’s new “hiring standards” rules, which say the organization won’t contract with or recommend services of any firm that works for a candidate challenging a Democrat incumbent.

The National Journal reported the rule change on Friday, which follows the ascension of conservative Democrat Cheri Bustos to DCCC chair. The DCCC’s independent-expenditure arm pays millions in contracts to consultants and connects them to Democratic campaigns, opportunities, and resources that a firm would be cut off to if it worked with a candidate that challenged incumbents.

The rule change seems tailor-made to protect conservative incumbents in deep-blue districts, such as Texas’ Henry Cuellar (who has been frequently mentioned by the left-wing electoral group Justice Democrats as ripe for a primary challenge) and Illinois’ Dan Lipinski, an anti-choice Democrat, one of the few members left in Congress who opposed Obamacare, and someone who barely beat back a primary challenge last year from nonprofit executive Marie Newman, who was endorsed by Illinois Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez. (Newman is reportedly raising money for another run against Lipinski next year.)

As Klein wrote, the potential Democratic incumbent challenger she met with had already been dropped by two consultants, clearly impacted by the DCCC’s threats to cut off potential funding and campaign opportunities, within six hours, and is considering abandoning the challenge altogether. And if all of that can happen in six hours, the next two years could be sorely disappointing for anyone who wants to use primaries to move the Democratic Party to the left.