This Is a Real F—king Problem’: Vulnerable Democrats Worried About Midterms
House Democrats vulnerable in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections are worried about their chances, alleging that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s strategy is hurting their reelection chances more than it’s helping.
Six members of the DCCC recently vented their frustrations to POLITICO under the condition of anonymity.
“This is a real f—king problem,” one member said.
According to the outlet, their complaints fell into three categories.
1. Focusing on the wrong issues
The overall consensus was there’s been too much focus on former President Donald Trump and not enough on “pocketbook issues.” Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe relied heavily on anti-Trump rhetoric and lost the gubernatorial race. But DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) is still leaning into the ineffective strategy.
“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,” said the member who used the f-word to describe the situation.
Additionally, vulnerable Democrats think their party should steer clear of abortion as a campaign issue.
“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,” the pro-choice member said. “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.”
2. Cornering them on policy
According to POLITICO’s Rachael Bade:
Former DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who represented a Trump district, was known for pushing back on leadership in private in order to protect vulnerable members from tough votes. But Maloney has taken the opposite tack: In August, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi was trying to corral moderates to vote for a $3.5 trillion budget, the DCCC infuriated members by threatening to withhold campaign money from them if they opposed the resolution. (The DCCC denied this.)
Maloney continued to side with leadership this fall when vulnerable members wanted Pelosi to allow a standalone vote on the infrastructure bill. He went after Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) on Twitter for criticizing Pelosi for “breach[ing] her firm, public commitment” to do so.
Another member said outside liberal groups spent millions of dollars on ads pressuring at-risk House Democrats to support Build Back Better in the fall. The members “pleaded” with the DCCC to get the groups to ease up, but they refused. POLITICO noted that the committee says it’s illegal for them to tell an outside group how to spend money.
3. General problems with the DCCC chair
“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,” the first lawmaker said. “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.”
Several Democrats suspect that Maloney is trying to leverage his position to climb the political ladder at their expense.
“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,” the first member said. “Because it’s not about protecting the majority; it’s about Sean Patrick Maloney. … We’ve got a vanity project.”
The DCCC has denied the allegations against Maloney.
“We agree completely, this election will be won on our record of results, not by talking about Trump,” said DCCC spokesperson 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.”