Incompetence at the D Triple Out Of Touch?


Julia Conley nailed the title on her piece at Common Dreams: From Pushing ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ to Dissing Medicare for All, DCCC Called Out for Sabotaging Bold Demands.

She also did a damn good job writing it.

A few key passages:

“It’s becoming evident that the DCCC—and the billionaire donors and revolving door consultants that make up the Democratic Party establishment—believe Democrats can only take back Congress by running on a watered down message…instead of the basic values of decency and fairness that voters demand,” said Waleed Shahid of Justice Democrats in a statement.

Documents on healthcare messaging that were handed out to House Democrats in the wake of the 2016 election treated universal healthcare as a fringe issue, suggesting that lawmakers are not to entertain Medicare for All as a potential solution to the nation’s high healthcare costs and poor outcomes.


As the healthcare memo came to light, the Huffington Postreported that last October, in the immediate wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the DCCC warned House candidates to steer clear of “politicizing” the massacre that killed 58 people and injured hundreds.

“You and your candidate will be understandably outraged and upset, as will your community. However, DO NOT POLITICIZE IT TODAY,” DCCC regional press secretary Evan Lukaske wrote to candidates in an email just after the shooting. “There will be time for politics and policy discussion, but any message today should be on offering thoughts/prayers for victims and their families, and thanking first responders who saved lives.”

The email was “straight out of the NRA’s talking points,” Mark Glaze of the gun violence prevention group Guns Down told the Huffington Post.

“If the DCCC is willing to give up a key issue and offend virtually every Democrat so as not to bother eight Independents in rural Missouri, they’re even more incompetent than we thought, and Democrats should be very worried about the midterms,” Glaze said.

And her closing paragraph:

“The establishment of the Democratic Party needs to get out of the way of the rising tide of movements that could sweep them into the majority,” said Shahid. “Across the country, we’re seeing grassroots activists come out in unprecedented numbers: to demand health care as a right, to stop the Trump agenda of division and greed, and to ban assault weapons. It’s a slap in the face to this grassroots movement that the DCCC only wants to offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ as a solution to an epidemic that has stolen so many lives.”

My friend Howie Klein at Down With Tyranny has been writing about DCCC incompetence and corruption for years. Election cycle after election cycle, too few people listened. Now, it seems, they are.

My own experience with the DCCC, at least in the moment, was favorable. Chris Van Hollen, then DCCC chair and now a Senator from Maryland, put me on the Red to Blue list and approved $2 million in spending on my ill-fated candidacy. I was invited to all the candidate trainings. They sent debate coaches out to help prepare me. And 8 or 10 sitting reps, including then Speaker Pelosi, headlined events for me.

So I have no axe to grind.

But even back then, when DCCC candidates were winning races in 2006 and 2008, something seemed off. There was a clubbiness to the whole operation that I found off-putting, even though I was welcomed to the club. Although I more than held my own fundraising and felt it entirely appropriate for a candidate seeking DCCC help to have to show a threshold level of fundraising competence, I found the DCCC emphasis on money too extreme. And I thought their media operation was abysmal. I cringed at the ads they ran for me, hoping they at least would not affirmatively cost me votes, but knowing they weren’t going to help any.

It was during my race that I met Howie. We’ve stayed in touch for the past decade and have spoken numerous times about DCCC absurdity. Howie recognized Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s corruption way before the rest of us experienced it. He pointed out to me how the D-trip would not support a candidate challenging Republicans who sat in top leadership posts, even if the race was winnable. There seemed to be an agreement of sorts between the DCCC and RNCC on that front.

Most of all, though, Howie railed about the DCCC practice of always, always seeking out the most conservative of candidates. They never met a Republican convert they didn’t like. I ran at the same time as Darcy Burner, from the Seattle suburbs. Darcy was as compelling a candidate as you could meet, and solidly progressive. The DCCC supported her, but only because they couldn’t justify not doing so. It was no secret that they didn’t care much for her style. A well run DCCC would have used her as a modal for other candidates. She wound up losing by the narrowest of margins in 2008. It’s too bad, she would have been awesome in the job.

With any luck, grass-roots Dems will reject the DCCC slate of primary candidates this time around. There’s a lot at stake. If the new, enthusiastic young candidates and their supporters are told to go run for lower offices and not take bold campaign positions (like, you know, providing health care and banning weapons of mass murder), they won’t be back. And America will be worse for it. Forever.


  1. The DCCC’s Dave Chase, campaign manager for Ann Kirkpatrick, tweets this morning that CD 2 has joined a National Journal list of 10 Congressional Districts nationwide that Democrats can flip. CD 2 is #6. National Journal apparently requires a subscription, but Chase cites this quote in his tweet:

    Dave Chase Retweeted Kimberly Railey
    Boom! Top 10 Dem Pick Up #AZ02: “This seat, which Clinton carried by 5 points and Mitt Romney won by 2, got competitive when former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced in July she was running for the Democratic nomination.”
    .@njhotline’s newest House rankings are out! 1) #PA05, 2) #FL27, 3) #NJ02, 4) #MN01, 5) #PA06, 6) #AZ02, 7) #VA10, 8) #WA08, 9) #CA39, 10) #CA49 via @allymutnick & @KyleTrygstad … ($)

    Well before Ann Kirkpatrick announced her candidacy, Democrats were gaining steam in CD 2. Martha McSally was vulnerable and inching toward a Senate run. Rep. McSally was joining herself at the hip to Trump, anathema to Democrats and to some Independents and Republicans, and she trashed the ACA. The district is turning blue for many reasons, but not because Ann Kirkpatrick declared.

  2. Excellent post. And timely.

    One glaring issue the establishment Democrats cannot seem to face is police brutality. They will blather a bit about “criminal justice system reform” now that some issues such as mass incarceration have moved to the mainstream. And a few (like Hillary Clinton) might stick their necks out and talk about body cameras and training.

    But you don’t hear them talking about the DOJ aggressively prosecuting civil rights violation cases when the states fail to convict or do not even try the cases. And it is probably unnecessary to say that the victims are disproportionately African American.

    Well, they’ve noticed. And black folks are good Democratic voters. There will not be a Democratic president in 2020 without the black vote.

    But it’s too controversial to talk about life and death issues when the victim is a POC. It might pi$$ off a certain type of white voter who might vote for a Democrat if the GOP candidate is sufficiently worse.

    • Oh, yeah, there’s another thing that we should talk about under the general heading “Democrats Need to Grow a Spine”.

      Legalization of marijuana at the federal level.

      Nope. Can’t even mention it.

      Why not? This has gotten ridiculous.

      And that idiot Jeff Sessions masquerading as the Attorney General (and trying to destroy the DOJ) wants to return to the days of Reefer Madness.

      • Jeff Sessions is old school racist. Black people smoke jazz cigarettes and look at white wimmins.

        Can’t have that.

        • Indeed. He’s the elf version of Bull Connor, but so out of place in the 21st century. Every time I see his picture I wish I could slap him upside the head.

  3. Nice find, Bob. See also reporting on the DCCC Unity memo from December:

    1) Candidates must not do anything that might harm their primary opponents in the general.
    2) Candidates must use the DCCC approved consultants
    3) Candidates must spend 75% of their total money on traditional media.

    If 100K in Facebook ads really had an effect, then that last one really seems stupid. But yes, all favor status quo corporatist candidates who cozy up to deep pocket donors, not candidates who represent the people.

    • I watched a few minutes of the meeting where these requirements were discussed. I had to turn it off. They came off as tyrants, idiots at best. Local pols need to do what they think is right for American’s, not for the DCCC.

      Dems ran away from Obama and the ACA in 2010 like cowards and what did it get them? They should have taken the hit and stood up for what’s right.

      Because the impression of the DCCC is that they want to be elected, not do what’s right, and that makes it harder to get elected. They’re ass backwards.

      BTW, it wasn’t the 100K in FB ads, that’s a GOP talking point, it was the pumping of fake news into conservatives feeds, something you don’t need to pay for, that is the issue. Bots and trolls, not the ads themselves, were the big problem.

      • This right here.

        “Dems ran away from Obama and the ACA in 2010 like cowards and what did it get them? ”

        It got them minority status in the House and later in the Senate.

        Their lack of support for President Obama is one of the most egregious political miscalculations in American history, IMO. His presidency could have set the course for decades of Democratic progress and a much more robust recovery from the destruction of the two Bush Administrations.

        But they were terrified of dumb ass white people dressed up in 18th century costumes and carrying misspelled, racist signs.

  4. Great post Bob. If there was ever a Democratic entity that needs intense sunlight it’s the DCCC. And for that matter the DSCC.

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