Democrats in the House of Representatives, frightened by the internecine warfare threatened by hard leftists in their party against incumbents, are fighting back by doing their best to block primary challenges by warning political firms they will not work with them if the firms aid primary challengers to incumbents.
As the National Journal reports, on Friday the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued new hiring standards to over 100 political firms, one of which stated that the DCCC won’t contract with or recommend to House candidates any political firms that aid challengers to current House members.
DCCC Executive Director Allison Jaslow told the National Journal that the committee has "the ability to set the course for" the Democrats.
The National Journal points out that the new standards have a two-pronged approach: they prevent hard leftists from challenging more moderate members of the House who come from more moderate districts, but also protect the new-hard-line leftists who could easily be ousted in the next Congressional election. Such leftists could include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who only needed 15,000 votes to be elected to the House in her New York district, or Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) who has been criticized by members of her constituency for her anti-Semitic remarks.
As The Daily Wire has reported, Ocasio-Cortez has been threatening to launch an effort challenging insufficiently leftist Democratic representatives for some time:
Just after she was elected in November, Ocasio-Cortez was on a conference call hosted by Justice Democrats, urging like-minded individuals to run for office. She said, “Long story short, I need you to run for office. All Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves. That's really what we need to do to save this country. That's just what it is." Her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, a co-founder of Justice Democrats, said bluntly, "We need new leaders, period. We gotta primary folks.”
The DCCC memo stated, "The core mission of the DCCC is electing House Democrats, which includes supporting and protecting incumbents.”
Ian Russell, a former top official at the DCCC, commented, ““The DCCC is often times the gatekeeper for consultants to get to candidates. 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.”
Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress, which works to aid challengers to incumbents, insisted, "The DCCC can do anything it wants to try to prevent the next generation of Democrats from taking power. They will not succeed.”
Leftists eager to target moderate Democrats are already on the prowl. MassLive reports, “Progressive groups critical of U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s approach to requesting President Donald Trump’s tax returns are reportedly looking to back a challenger to unseat Neal in Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District primary next year. The Springfield Democrat has represented Western Massachusetts in Congress for more than three decades and won his 2018 re-election bid by a decisive 40-point margin against a Democratic challenger. But those unhappy with his stance on progressive issues, and his actions as the newly minted House Ways and Means Committee chairman, are already looking ahead to 2020.”
Some new House Democratic members or candidates who barely lost to incumbents have used well-known political firms; new representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts after hiring AKPD Message & Media, whose founders aided President Obama’s presidential campaigns, and Anzalone Liszt Grove, a Democratic pollster; Marie Newman, who barely lost to incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) used Mothership Strategies.