Three progressive House Democrats who won their seats by challenging Democratic incumbents are rebuking a new rule by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that prohibits the organization from conducting business with “political vendors” that support primary challengers to incumbents, calling the rule a “blacklist” that weakens the party.
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ro Khanna of California have called out the DCCC for the new rule, which is included on a form for vendors looking to partner with the organization.
“The core mission of the DCCC is electing House Democrats, which includes supporting and protecting incumbents,” the form read. “To that end, the DCCC will not conduct business with, nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting Member of the House Democratic Caucus.”
On Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated former Rep. Joe Crowley last summer in the party’s primary, cast the rule as a “blacklist” and a “boycott,” writing in a tweet that it’s “extremely divisive & harmful to the party.”
The freshman congresswoman, who amassed a national following of supporters after her two wins last year, called for “small-dollar” donors to stop giving their donations to the DCCC and instead give them directly to “swing candidates.” She went on to name a few campaigns that she said should directly receive donations.
In a statement to CNN Monday, Cole Leiter, the DCCC’s spokesperson, said the rule aligned with a commitment the DCCC’s chairwoman, Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, made last year to the caucus.
“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,” he said.
Like Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley also took to Twitter to call out the rule, writing in a series of tweets Saturday that it could be especially harmful to minority candidates and “diverse vendors.”
“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 color - whose ideas, energy, and innovation need a place in our party,” wrote Pressley, who defeated former Rep. Mike Capuano in the party’s primary last year, eventually becoming the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress after her November win.
“So, let me be clear: I believe fiercely in the potential of our party, but we cannot credibly lay claim to prioritizing diversity & inclusion when institutions like the DCCC implement policies that threaten to silence new voices and historically marginalized communities,” Pressley added.
Khanna, who unseated former Rep. Mike Honda in 2016, said in a statement Sunday that the new rule “is the kind of policy protecting the Washington establishment that plays directly into Trump’s hands.”
The congressman took direct aim at Bustos, saying she “enacted a policy to blacklist” candidates like himself.
“We cannot allow these divisive tactics when we need to be building a unified progressive movement that can bring the political revolution our country so desperately needs,” Khanna said in his statement.