There was an uproar recently when the Democratic party establishment in the form of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said that they would cut off any consultants and vendors who worked for primary challengers to party incumbents. This was seen as yet another example of the party leadership trying desperately to retain its neoliberal ideology in the face of more progressive challengers who had succeeded in unseating entrenched conservative incumbents.
But as Aida Chavez and Akila Lacey write, while the party leadership frowns on anyone who supports a primary challenger within their own party, it seems to have no problems working with consultants and vendors who support and seek to elect Republicans.
One of the biggest vendors working with the political action committee With Honor, Trilogy Interactive, has taken at least $2 million from the DCCC since the 2016 election cycle, according to FEC filings. With Honor PAC — which has an affiliated bipartisan caucus, the For Country caucus, that includes at least 10 Democratic members — is dedicated to electing veterans to Congress.
As The Intercept reported in July, the PAC actively targeted former Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., spending money to back Republican Mike Garcia, an Iraq War veteran, in the upcoming election. Last cycle, With Honor backed Republican Reps. Mike Waltz, Brian Mast, and Greg Steube of Florida, Dan Crenshaw and Van Taylor of Texas, Steve Watkins of Kansas, Don Bacon of Nebraska, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. They also spent against Republicans Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota and Andy Barr of Kentucky.
The poster child of a truly awful Democratic incumbent who might as well be a Republican that the party leadership supports when he should be primaried and defeated is Dan Lipinski who represents a solidly Democratic seat in Illinois.
The DCCC has faced intense scrutiny for the blacklist policy, which critics say is another example of the committee exploiting its position to keep centrist Democrats in power while discouraging women and people of color to run for office. For example, Marie Newman lost to Rep. Dan Lipinski last year, after the committee backed the anti-abortion Democrat over his progressive challenger. She’s running against the eight-term incumbent a second time in 2020. As of October, several consultants had dropped her campaign because of the DCCC rule change, though a number of House Democrats were privately supporting her.
One of the people the DCCC supported over a more progressive candidate is Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. What did it get them? Van Drew voted in such a way that he “enjoyed a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association and supported restrictions on abortion” and voted against impeaching Trump. And then just this week, he said that he was switching parties and becoming a Republican.
Well done, DCCC! This is the outcome of your goal of creating a congress where both parties are either neoliberal or right wing.