A surprising olive branch to the DCCC, details on the Pennsylvania special election and an update Santa Fe students walking out of class tomorrow and marching together on March 24.
Student Walk Out and March 24 March. Tomorrow, students across the Nation, including here in Santa Fe and throughout New Mexico, are walking out of class for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 who died in Florida on Valentines Day. We reached out to the school district to see if there were ways to support the student walkout and they indicated that they would not want hundreds of adults entering the campus and that schools tend to be in residential neighborhoods where an assembly of adults just outside campus would be very disruptive. Besides this is the students’ walkout and we need to step back and let them lead. So Retake is not encouraging you to actively support students tomorrow. Rather, we would encourage you to participate in the noon March 24th March For Our Lives from the Roundhouse to the Plaza where students will speak. Click here to find out more about the march on our Actions & Events page.
Is There a Middle Path for the DCCC? An Invitation for Dialog
I’d like to update you on Retake Our Democracy’s efforts to encourage the DCCC to stop intervening in the primary process and to allow voters to decide who they what to represent the Party in November. But as this post describes, I also want to offer a middle path out of recognition of the critically important consequences of the 2018 November elections.
For the past week, I have encouraged Retake supporters to contact Rep. Lujan through a specific email address dedicated to this purpose. Those who wrote received a very thoughtful response. Many of you forwarded the response to me and I thought it was such a measured piece I asked Lujan’s campaign if I could publish it, but as yet have not received permission. Even though I could publish without permission, I am more interested in forging a constructive relationship with the Congressman than shaming him or using his campaign’s email without permission. So I am giving them time to consider my offer.
In the meantime, you can see the response yourself by sending an email to the Congressman at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your note, you don’t have to go into great depth, simply state something about your concerns about the DCCC using its influence to favor centrist candidates and undermining progressive candidates. I also suggest including a link to this post, click here, as it describes in detail over 15 instances of the DCCC favoring centrist candidates. It is important that Rep. Lujan and the DCCC understand that we are not focused on their tinkering in just one or two races.
The same post also describes how by electing centrist Democrats and assigning them to key committees, the DCCC is ensuring that centrist policies prevail and progressive ones die. But before you write, I ask that you review the rest of this post, as I think there may be a middle path to be found here. It has been said that the Democratic Party is the Party that eats itself. And 2018 is not the time for internecine warfare. We need to row together. Today’s election in Pennsylvania provides some direction as to what that middle path might look like and why it is so important to find that middle path.
Today voters in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District will pick a replacement for former Representative Tim Murphy, a Republican who resigned last year due to allegations he encouraged a woman, with whom he had an affair, to have an abortion. The special election pits Rick Saccone, a Republican lawmaker allied with President Trump, against Conor Lamb, a former prosecutor running as a moderate Democrat. This is a race in a district that Trump won by 20% and where the GOP has thrown out all the stops with visits from Ivanka, Pence, Ryan and even two trips from the Donald. The GOP has also thrown millions into the race and yet, polls this weekend showed Lamb with a slight lead. A win by the Democrat will put the fear of God in the GOP, as it would be the most compelling evidence yet of the collapse of support for Trump and GOP policies and the increasingly likely loss of one or both chambers of Congress.
Let’s be clear, the horrors that a GOP/Trump controlled Congress have wreaked and will continue to wreak make the absolute first priority to be to wrest control of the Congress. Period. This has been the primary point advanced by the DCCC to justify their supporting centrist candidates at the expense of progressives. And this line of thought, if used with absolute discretion and clear criteria may make sense. For example in Pennsylvania, Lamb is no progressive: he favors Trump’s steel tariff, opposes gun control, and has indicated he is personally opposed to abortion. At best he is a purple Democrat. But, there was never a progressive alternative to Lamb. So one criteria for DCCC support for centrists might be the lack of opposition from a viable progressive candidate. Another criteria might be some threshold gap in the 2016, say districts, like the 28th, where Trump won by 20+%. I used the term ‘viable’ above as it may point to a third criteria evident in Texas District 7.
I am likely to generate some howls about agreeing that the DCCC is within bounds in opposing Laura Moser as she has quite obviously become a progressive hero. The 7th Texas district is a district the Democrats could win and I think Moser would be the better candidate except for some very ill-chosen comments made a couple years ago. You just aren’t going to get away with dissing Texas and then run for office there a couple years later. Texans are just too damned proud of their state. While Moser may well be able to win a primary, the billboards with her Paris, Texas comments would be on every highway, in every mailer, on every robocall, and featured in every TV ad. I think it is appropriate for the DCCC to target its resources to candidates it sees as being winnable. In Texas District 7, I am not sure Moser is a viable candidate.
So two possible criteria emerge for the DCCC injecting its influence in a primary: 1) absence of a viable progressive candidate or 2) a district in which Trump won by a 20+% margin. The value of having clear criteria is that it would at least be transparent.
But as noted in the link above, the DCCC has gone well beyond advancing centrists when progressive alternatives are flawed or where a district is so red that no progressive could possibly win. The DCCC needs to acknowledge that there is abundant evidence that progressive messaging, candidates and positions can win votes in rust belt, midwest and even southern districts. Click here for a post from August that outlines example after example of women, people of color, LGTBQ and very progressive candidates winning elections nationwide, even in historically red communities. And click here to review a post that described how specific progressive messaging and progressive policies can be effective in motivating rural and southern voters.
So what Retake is asking from the DCCC and from Congressman Lujan is to exercise far more restraint and discretion in meddling with Congressional primary elections and allow progressives a fair chance. The future of the party simply is not to be found in catering to the center. Far better to return to the Democratic Party that created Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and a host of other social justice reforms. Polls demonstrate clearly that young Democrats are far more progressive than the centrist candidates the DCCC is supporting. And the Party risks the loss of these young and enthusiastic Dems if the Party continues down this path.
In the interest of transparency, is there some way that the DCCC could make a commitment to impartiality in primaries except under very specific and publicly announced criteria? Is there possibility of dialog about this?
I share this with you today first to alert you to tune in tonight and watch the critical Pennsylvania results, but also to encourage you to temper your input to Congressman Lujan. So much is at stake right now and while I will not at all be happy to watch Lamb side with the GOP to stop a gun control measure, I prefer he do it while opposing a raft of other Trump policies and voting to impeach Trump, than to have Saccone in the seat voting for everything Trump spews out.
So please do write to Representative Lujan and ask in measured tones that the DCCC exercise restraint and far more often allow the voters to choose without DCC influence. Encourage them to develop specific criteria for races where they will influence a primary election by supporting a centrist or undermining a progressive. And also ask them for a single example where the DCCC is supporting a strong progressive candidate running against a weaker, centrist candidate. There were quite a few examples in the Intercept article referenced here.
And tonight, watch the results and hopefully witness this horror beginning to crumble.
Paul & Roxanne