Vulnerable House Democrats residing in battleground districts have started to publicly show their frustration with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the “leadership” of chairman Rep. Sean Partick Maloney (D-NY).
Vulnerable Democrat members frustrated over potentially losing in the midterms recount their frustration with the DCCC — the sole job of which is to reelect incumbents and help elect members to vacant seats — and Chairman Maloney — the top Democrat tasked with keeping their House majority. This happened as the committee reportedly “asked vulnerable Democrats to send [Politico] Playbook positive statements about Maloney.”
In an attempt to summarize all the problems between vulnerable members and the committee, one of the Democrats told Playbook anonymously, “This is a real fucking problem.” The same member added, “The Democratic organization whose purpose is to help the party keep the House next year is instead hurting their chances of reelection.”
Additionally, the member argued that the messaging from the committee is terrible, referring to Maloney and the committee targeting former President Donald Trump and blasting Republicans, instead of addressing “pocketbook issues,” which is what happened in Virginia.
When Terry McAuliffe lost last month to Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, McAuliffe focused a lot on Trump and trying to tie the two together, which ultimately failed. “This is crazy to me that the DCCC is rolling out a playbook that they know doesn’t work and that they encouraged people in 2018 not to use,” the member said, arguing that in 2018, when the Democrats flipped 40 seats, the committee told members to focus on the opposite.
However, some vulnerable Democrats claimed that the DCCC’s messaging problem goes further than Trump and attacks on Republicans. Another vulnerable Democrat argued that the committee should stay away from abortion rights as a campaign issue, noting abortion is “a lightning rod” in that member’s district. Meanwhile, the DCCC has previously sent countless press releases attacking Republicans on the issue.
One of the Democrats supporting abortion rights said:
We should leave it up to Planned Parenthood and all the reproductive organizations to get in there and support candidates that are pro-choice and leave it at that. … I’m not going to go out there and start bashing people for being pro-life. It would be a big mistake in my district.
Vulnerable members also blame Maloney for causing problems within the party, such as going after members. A lawmaker said:
What’s problematic is not only is he pushing the wrong strategy. … The biggest problem is that he’s attacking front-line members for taking a different perspective. If you want to win purple and red seats, you have to distance yourself from other Democrats. He is a part of this ‘party purity’ march that is just going to ensure that we are DEEP in the minority.
Previous heads of the DCCC have gone against their party’s leadership to help protect vulnerable members, such as former DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos (D-IL), who is retiring from Congress at the end of her current term. Playbook mentioned that during her time as chair, she “was known for pushing back on leadership in private in order to protect vulnerable members from tough votes.” But, as chair, Maloney has done the opposite, going after members.
Maloney went after Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) when he released a statement fuming over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) breaking a promise to vote on the so-called “bipartisan” infrastructure law, in the time the two agreed on, “breach[ing] her firm, public commitment,” Gottheimer wrote at the time.
“@POTUS stood with @SpeakerPelosi and 95% of the @HouseDemocrats and said the opposite: that his historic vision for America first requires a Build Back Better reconciliation deal,” Maloney said in response to Gottheimer’s stern statement to Pelosi.
This afternoon @POTUS stood with @SpeakerPelosi and 95% of the @HouseDemocrats and said the opposite: that his historic vision for America first requires a Build Back Better reconciliation deal. That’s the way a bipartisan infrastructure bill will win the votes to become law. https://t.co/77y2VXJsQg
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) October 2, 2021
In August, when the Democrats struggled to find the votes on the so-called “bipartisan” infrastructure law, they reportedly received calls from the Democrat campaign arm, threatening that congressional members would be financially “cut off” if they opposed the plan. The DCCC deny the allegations.
The Politico report also noted that other leadership members such as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and some legislative affairs officials from the White House were allegedly making calls to vulnerable Democrats as well to pressure them to support the legislation. The Politico report does not infer that these calls from Hoyer and the White House were tied to DCCC campaign funding.
In reality, vulnerable members told Playbook, they imagine Maloney could be using his DCCC chairmanship to elevate his political profile to climb the leadership in the Democrat party, even though it could be at the expense of other members’ political futures.
“I think Sean Patrick’s ‘leadership’ — and please use air quotes on that — at the DCCC is the reason why we should not have elected colleagues running that organization,” one member said, slamming Maloney. “Because it’s not about protecting the majority; it’s about Sean Patrick Maloney. … We’ve got a vanity project.”
There's concern that SPM is using DCCC to launch a leadership bid & is doing more to curry favor with progressives than give frontliners the space to win their re-elections.
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) December 17, 2021
Despite all of this, the DCCC “strongly refutes” the notion that Maloney has been focused on anything other than his job to keep the majority in the House. “We agree completely, this election will be won on our record of results, not by talking about Trump,” said DCCC spokesman Chris Hayden. “That’s why Chairman Maloney has been fighting like hell to pass the president’s transformative agenda, which enjoys supermajority support in swing districts.”
Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.
This piece has been updated.