Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is planning to cheat her fellow Democratic candidates out of thousands of campaign dollars over a feud with “establishment” Democrats who refuse to allow progressives to dictate the future of the party, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee isn’t calling her out on it.
DCCC chairwoman Cheri Bustos appeared on CNN over the weekend and flat-out refused to criticize Ocasio-Cortez, even though Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to withhold much-needed funds from the communal campaign fund could put some Democratic candidates at a severe disadvantage.
CNN host Victor Blackwell asked Bustos a number of times to air her feelings on Ocasio-Cortez’s decision, particularly in light of what Blackwell labeled Ocasio-Cortez’s “record-breaking” fundraising numbers — money she should be sharing with the DCCC’s entire slate of candidates.
“That’s always up to individual members so I guess I don’t think about it one way or another,” Bustos said, instead. “We’re raising record amounts of money from our members.”
Ocasio-Cortez, Bustos added, is “good for the Democratic caucus in the House,” and then shared some lukewarm praise for the Democratic socialist from the New York City boroughs. “She has a lot of followers,” Bustos continued. “I have respect for her. She brings a new voice to Congress.”
Blackwell pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez has outraised even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has been on a record-breaking fundraising binge of her own. That didn’t seem to bother Bustos one bit.
But perhaps the DCCC should actually be concerned. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t simply keeping her hard-earned cash for herself, instead of sharing it with the Democratic Congressional candidates’ communal fund, as is required of those candidates who raise more than a certain threshold. She’s funding her own progressive rival to the organization, in an effort to unseat the moderate Democrats the DCCC typically bankrolls, even in districts where a far-left challenger won’t do well in the general election against a Republican.
Ocasio-Cortez’s first significant donation, for example, went to Marie Newman, a far-left progressive who waged a primary challenge against the final remaining pro-life Democrat in Congress, Rep. Dan Lipinksi (D-IL). Lipinski’s district is only nominally Democratic, and Lipinski regularly retains his seat by a wide margin — and that’s if he even has a Republican challenger. Past efforts to unseat Lipinski have met with abject failure, and Ocasio-Cortez’s $18,000 was likely wasted.
The point is, it seems, to drive home the idea that the DCCC represents the past, and to punish the DCCC for “blacklisting” certain progressive organizations from its lists of preferred vendors, even if progressive candidates aren’t getting elected.
“One, I don’t agree with the policy around blacklisting groups that help progressive candidates,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter after meeting with a windfall of criticism. “I think we need to evolve as a party and make room for that.”
“I want to help frontline members by putting that money straight into their pocket,” she added.
The DCCC blacklist, though, isn’t about progressives specifically. The organization refuses to bankroll any group working to unseat a Democratic Member of Congress, from the left or from the right.
“The core mission of the DCCC is electing House Democrats, which includes supporting and protecting incumbents,” according to the group. “To that end, the DCCC will not conduct business with, nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting Member of the House Democratic Caucus.”