|Opinion Haver||May 1, 2019|
We now enter month 2 of the DCCC Blacklist, and the fallout is not yet over. The DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) Blacklist, if you’re unaware, is a decision Chairwoman Cheri Bustos made in March to bar any firm who worked with a primary challenger from getting DCCC contracts and being placed on their recommended vendor list. As we pointed out at the the time, though this was aimed to hurt primary challengers and the universe of left-leaning campaign infrastructure by limiting their clients, it is also a wound the DCCC is willingly inflicting on itself, as they will have to give up working with trusted and effective contractors if it means sticking it to primary challengers.
Since then, over 50 College Democrat chapters (who are actually part of the DNC) have pledged to boycott the DCCC; the Congressional Progressive Caucus made clear that they’re absolutely pissed; a collection of vendors preemptively blacklisted themselves in protest; Ayanna Pressley, one of two House Democrats who defeated an incumbent in a primary in 2018, criticized the policy, saying it “slams the door” on women and people of color; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the other House Democrat who beat a Democratic incumbent in 2018, directly advocated ending all donations to the DCCC while this policy is in effect.
Now, to be clear, not all campaign donations are created equal, and if you’re reading this, you probably shouldn’t be giving to the the DCCC anyway, as well as the DSCC, HMP, SMP, and most Democratic PACs. There are federal laws that allow candidates to spend money more efficiently than outside organizations, and generally speaking a campaign knows more about what to spend their cash on than an outside organization. We’d totally be advocating a DCCC boycott, if we weren’t also just generally advising anyone without “separate garage for my Rolls Royces” level money to throw around that the DCCC probably wasn’t the best place to put it.
The DCCC blacklist is particularly entwined with one specific congressional race.
We’re going to lay out the facts as clearly as possible.
In 2018, there were a handful of primary candidates. We’ve searched through their financial records, and we see that one candidate would have been affected most. Outside of Newman, the blacklist would have affected three polls and a couple thousand in travel arrangements. Newman, however, sees roughly $132,000 in campaign investments become endangered.
Newman employed 270 Strategies, a digital media shop, The Sexton Group, a consulting firm, and Normington, Petts & Associates, her pollster. All three also worked for the DCCC, who obviously stands as a larger client with more work to send their way.
Marie Newman is running against Dan Lipinski again this cycle.
Cheri Bustos, who made the decision is one of only two Democrats to donate to Lipinski in 2018. The other Democrat to donate to her this year, Henry Cuellar, has been a vocal supporter of the policy.
Lipinski very actively backed Bustos as DCCC chair.
The DCCC Blacklist has been a serious body blow to Newman’s campaign. She’s already had 4 resignations out of fear of the DCCC, and more firms simply refuse to work with her.
To be clear: we’re not stating that Cheri Bustos implemented this policy to protect her friend from a challenger who didn’t hate gay people. We’re just saying it kinda looks like it, doesn’t it?
Newman, for her part, has stayed in the race. When she went to the press with her story of being targeted by the DCCC, the weekend after saw her receive roughly 45 thousand dollars from 2,442 donations. She also picked up endorsements from Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. If there was any question where the activist energy was in the party, that should have answered it, and not in favor of closing ranks around incumbents no matter who.
Maggie Toulouse Oliver had her official campaign launch on Thursday, and it seems like she’s setting out to put herself to Ben Ray Lujan’s left, by singling out her support for Medicare for All, which Lujan does not support, in her launch video.
She was met with a show of force. First Lujan unveiled the endorsement of over 300 women. That’s a little on the nose, but whatever. Somewhat telling is that he could only pull a few names in from the political sphere, and the biggest is probably Diane Denish, who was lieutenant governor under Bill Richardson, 2003-2011. Translation: Powerful Democrats in New Mexico don’t think this is a done deal yet. He then dropped an internal poll done by fairly well respected GBAO Strategies, which had him up 64-25. He did not release the wording of the question. Being down nearly 40 points is not where any candidate wants to start out, and it’s hard to call that entire deficit name recognition. But the election’s a long time out, and in a fairly cheap and small state as well. The open question of whether EMILY’s List will get involved remains as well.
Three weeks ago, we took a look at the overly large potential field for NM-03, which will be open as incumbent Ben Ray Lujan runs for senate. We have some updates on the state of the field since then.
Public Service Commissioner Valerie Espinoza has decided to stay out of the race. Although it wouldn’t require choosing between her current position and a Congressional run, it sounds like she just doesn’t want to go to DC.
Attorney Teresa Leger de Fernandez (who generally goes by just Teresa Leger) has filed with the FEC to run, and is telling people her campaign will launch soon.
That brings the tally to three official entrants and ten considering.
Seth Moulton is running for president. Do you have a guess why? It’s probably as good as ours. At first this was only rumor, and there were only intimations about running for his Congressional seat. Then it was an open secret and a few more started to be open about their designs on the race. Despite Moulton’s clear intention to run for re-election when he loses the presidential primary. Or, um “if”. If he somehow loses the presidential primary, he’ll be running in MA-06, and despite that, the floodgates have opened. Let’s survey the field.
Salem Trustee Jamie Zahlaway Belsito is the only one officially running right now. As we pointed out last week, she’s a very recent addition to the Democratic Party. As in, she was appointed to her current position by a Republican and campaigned for the Republican in this Congressional district in 2014. We honestly wouldn’t even be sure she’s better than Moulton.
Ex-State Senator Barbara L’Italien is still in the same place she was last times we checked in: considering.
Ex-congressman John Tierney put has let the press know he’s interested and has said that “he’s hearing that people think Moulton is working for himself rather than for his constituents”, which is politician-speak for personally wanting to run but not being ready to jump in yet. Tierney was once a rising star, nearly taking out MA-06’s incumbent Republican during the hellish 1994 elections. Tierney won in a rematch the next cycle, and then quickly established a reputation in the House as a member of the progressive left. Things went smoothly until 2010, when his wife was convicted of felony tax fraud. It was never even alleged John knew what was going on, but he still faced a close 2012 election, followed up by a surprising loss in the 2014 primary to Seth Moulton. Tierney's entry would upend the state of the race, but he’s not going to clear the field, considering his difficulties in the 2014 primary and the fact that he only has $162K sitting around in his old campaign account, so he’d be starting his campaign from square one, just like everyone else.
State house Representative Lori Ehrlich, who we went into more depth on last week, is also still considering.
Councilor Eileen Duff is also interested. She sits on the Governor’s Council, a New Hampshire- and Massachusetts-specific governing body which, for the most part, handles the “advise and consent” type duties usually handled by state senates. Freshman Democratic Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) was a member of New Hampshire’s version, the Executive Council, but Massachusetts’s is considerably lower profile. For instance, in 2010, two brothers picked up the nominations of the two parties and openly campaigned for each other for fun. The one who didn’t actually want to win did. Duff will have experience to point to, but the nature of the position makes it hard for her to have name recognition or any real accomplishments.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll is considering running if Seth Moulton doesn’t run for reelection. Which means she’s not running.
Democrat Gregory Meeks has occupied NY-05 or its predecessors since 1998, when he was selected by party insiders without a primary. While the first decade or so was mostly smooth sailing, he’s come under increasing scrutiny since then. He’s ascended within party leadership, largely due to his fundraising abilities. (He once said, “I do fundraisers where the people with the money are [...] I am not going to raise the money in my district that I need to be a player here in Washington.”)
For Gregory Meeks’s career, fundraising has been both a blessing and a curse: it’s facilitated his rise, but it’s also gotten him slapped with a $63,000 fine from the Federal Election Commission. Fundraising has gotten Meeks a variety of lavish vacations, but it also drew attention to a questionable home construction deal with a donor. He’s become a favorite of the financial industry, taking in large sums of money and becoming one of their few Democratic point men in Washington. He’s also garnered notice for taking unusually full advantage of taxpayer-funded perks, and at one point was under simultaneous investigation by both the House Ethics Committee and federal law enforcement for separate offenses. He’s also not particularly known for anything else, which can be just as dangerous for an incumbent as the bad votes and corruption itself. A lot of that would also describe Joe, who just recently stepped down as the Queens Democratic Party boss after losing his Congressional primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018. His replacement as Queens boss? Gregory Meeks.
In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the twentysomething socialist bartender who took on the head of the Queens Democratic machine. In 2020, that could be Shaniyat Chowdhury, who on Tuesday told City and State NY he would be challenging Rep. Gregory Meeks. Chowdhury, who was a volunteer and then a staffer for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, says he will run on many of the same themes as her: Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, free college, and rejecting corporate PAC donations. (Meeks took tens of thousands of dollars in corporate PAC donations in the first quarter of 2019.) Chowdhury has a few hallmarks of a more traditional candidate than Ocasio-Cortez, mostly in that he actually has political experience from working on her campaign and working as a legislative aide in the New York General Assembly. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, however, Chowdhury will not have demographics on his side, as a Bangladeshi-American in a plurality-black district. If elected, he would be one of four Muslims serving in Congress.