Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives slam Democratic Party leaders for 'blackballing' candidates who want to challenge sitting Democrats

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive Democrats are publicly attacking the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after the group announced it will no longer work with political strategists and vendors that support candidates challenging sitting Democrats.
  • They urged the DCCC to retract its policy and welcome challengers, particularly in safe blue districts.
  • Ocasio-Cortez told her supporters to “pause” their donations to the DCCC and instead give directly to candidates they support, including those in swing districts.

Progressive Democrats, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, are publicly attacking the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after the group announced it will no longer work with political strategists and vendors that support candidates challenging sitting Democrats.

The DCCC’s new policy applies to both swing districts, which paved the path to the Democrats’ current House majority, and deeply Democratic districts, like those Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley represent.Critics argue that the policy is a transparent attempt to squash candidates who threaten the party’s status quo.

Ocasio-Cortez called the move “extremely divisive” and urged her supporters to “pause” their financial support of the DCCC and instead give directly to candidates and elected officials, particularly those from swing districts.

“The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party,” she tweeted on Saturday. “My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead.”

Pressley argued in a series of tweets on Saturday that the DCCC’s new policy will shut out potential candidates, particularly women and people of colour, who are underrepresented in politics and whose ideas will help shake up the status quo.

“If the DCCC enacts this policy to blacklist vendors who work with challengers, we risk undermining an entire universe of potential candidates and vendors – especially women and people of colour – whose ideas, energy, and innovation need a place in our party,” Pressley tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley both won their seats by defeating longtime Democratic incumbents – both older white men – in their diverse, progressive districts.

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus held a heated meeting with the DCCC last Wednesday, during which DCCC chair Rep. Cheri Bustos refused to reverse the controversial policy.

“Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan, and I met with Cheri Bustos to make it clear that we strongly oppose her new policy that stifles competition and blackballs any consultant who works for a challenger,” CPC member Rep. Ro Khanna told The Intercept. Khanna added that the policy was the most “heavy-handed” the DCCC had implemented in recent years.

The DCCC also announced that it will require political vendors to report on the diversity of its business – specifically whether the vendor is owned or partially owned by a member of a marginalized group or minority, including people of colour or women.

The organisation insisted that it will focus heavily on increasing the diversity of the Democratic caucus while protecting its majority in 2020.

“This transparent policy follows through on that exact promise and will protect all Members of the Democratic Caucus – regardless of where they fall within our big tent,” DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter said in a statement to Business Insider.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, argued that the policy is necessary to protect members who face primary challenges from the right. He told National Journal that there’s “something wrong” when an incumbent pays dues to the DCCC and then that group contracts with a political vendors working to defeat the incumbent.

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