UWS Action: DCCC

Hi, this is a place to post comments on meeting with DCCC.

I’ll start with Dale’s framing of questions for the meeting:

I [Dale] suggest starting with a general open-ended question about DCCC’s role in picking candidates. Here are questions I would like to get answers to:
  • The DCCC picked 24 “red-to-blue” candidates to focus on. How does that work?
    • How were they chosen?
    • What does it mean to announce those picks but say it isn’t an endorsement? What was the electorate supposed to understand from that?
    • What kind of support did those candidates get?
    • Did the DCCC give money to candidates other than those 24? If so, did any candidates competing with the 24 get DCCC financial backing?
    • It seems that none of the 24 were the most liberal candidate in the race. Why is that?
  • Specifically, Dana Balter in NYS had no competitors until the DCCC got involved. She had local Democratic party support. Why did the DCCC recruit another candidate, one who didn’t seem likely to win?
  • How much is Representative Nadler expected to raise for the party?
  • I get regular emails from Representative Nadler asking for money to help win back the House. Those contributions go to the Jerry Nadler for Congress fund. How much is used for his own campaign and how much for others? Does it go to the DCCC or to individual candidates that he personally picks?
  • What candidates did Rep. Nadler endorse and/or campaign for?
  • What are Rep. Nadler’s thoughts about who owns the Democratic party and how much it should be opened up and become more democratic?

Please add your comments below

Dale and Pat’s document on DCCC Influence

12 Replies to “UWS Action: DCCC”

  1. Gerri asked if we should send these questions to Celine ahead of the meeting.

  2. Dale:I wouldn’t send her this list for sure. In fact, I would hope that most of the information would come out of open-ended questions and not by asking these questions explicitly.

    You may want to just let her know that it seems that the DCCC isn’t supporting progressive candidates and we would like to understand better what the DCCC role is in primaries and general elections and how it operates. We would also like to understand how Nadler himself supports candidates.

  3. That’s just a suggestion. Others may want to give their opinions.

  4. Speaking as myself: I agree with Dale that we wouldn’t want to send the full list of questions but should give a short statement about what we want to cover. I’d also like to tell Celine 1-3 particular races we’d like to discuss so she can’t just say “I’ll look into that and get back to you”. Definitely NY-24 and perhaps one or two others.

    • I agree with Jonathon’s approach. I would like to send an email to Celine letting her know the attendees, and the brief “ask”, which I have already done, but will reiterate and the list of examples of races we’d like to discuss.

  5. Dale also suggested that we encourage them to give their full support to progressive Democrats in the general election. I also agree with this. First, that we should be advocating for something they can do now — not just complaining about their past actions and the primaries are effectively over. Also, because I believe it is true that progressives make effective candidates. They spark more enthusiasm that will be important in a low-turnout election. They may be more effective than you would think drawing crossover voters. Progressives may actually be more appealing than “establishment” candidates. But the esteemed Nancy Pelosi said “We have to be cold-blooded in what we do. In other words, if the wrong person wins — well, nobody’s wrong — but if the person who can’t win, wins, it’s not a priority race for us anymore, because we’ve got 100 races.” But, the progressives CAN win as long as the DNC doesn’t abandon them.

    • Not so sure I agree with your last comment that the progressive’s CAN win as long as the DNC doesn’t abandon them. Maybe in most cases; but not all. So I believe there is still a winnowing out process to be done. Maybe there’s a minimum of support for those candidates that are “obviously” out of the realistic range.

  6. 3 things –
    (1) this is a test to see if I can follow Jonathan’s instructions (so far, so good!).
    (2) II agree with Dale and Jonathan that we don’t want to send that list ahead of the meeting; it was a great list, but I think we might be more effective if we do as Jonathan suggested and list a few key races that really speak to the main points of the meeting. Speaking for myself, I’m not 100% sure exactly what we mean when we say “progressive vs. establishment” candidates – do we have some criteria that we’re applying? I know that it would help me (and possibly the conversation with Celine) to be able to articulate this distinction.
    (3) Not sure if anyone else is on the distribution list for those weekly Grassroots calls – generally about the NYS voting activities that CC is involved in – that take place on Wednesdays? If not, I believe that yesterday’s meeting notes included a reference to what we’re doing to help Susan with the senator surveys. It said – “…Question: is the group that is doing research on state senate races also perhaps interested in collecting data of other kinds? It might be helpful to collect testimonials or other data from the public, as a way of solidifying our case and making it clear to candidates that these are local issues…” I’m not sure how anyone else feels about this, but I think I would limit myself to the survey research as opposed to collecting testimonials.

    • Regarding Pat’s second point about progressive candidates and Gerri’s similar point that my assertion that progressives CAN win was a little too cavalier. Yes, I was making too sweeping a statement but I stand by the thrust of what I said.

      There are districts (and Laura Moser’s may be one) where a progressive would have little chance and the best we might hope for is someone like Doug Jones. However, I think that the DNC/DCCC is much too willing to put almost all districts into this category. I think that’s what’s motivating what they did in NY-24 and is epitomized in Nancy Pelosi’s statement. As to how to define a “progressive” versus an “establishment” candidate, I don’t think we can be precise but it will be clear in many cases — one indicator is whether the candidate’s strength is grassroots organizing or fundraising. Also whether they are making single payer health care, or at least a public option, as part of their policy list.

      Finally, I wanted to add that I do think there are some cases that DCCC intervention could be warranted. If a candidate has been indicted for fraud (Senator Menendez) I think it would be good to try to find someone else to run and there may be other cases where a candidate says weird things. Another example is the California races where we could end up with 2 Republicans in a runoff because of their open elections. But I think working against candidates who sound too much like Bernie Sanders is a HUGE mistake. Populist appeals may well be effective and a call for single payer may be more appealing than saying that you’ll “fix Obamacare”.

      P.S. While Laura Moser may not have been the ideal candidate, that wouldn’t excuse the DCCC going on a negative campaign against her.

  7. Dale and Pat,

    Thanks very much for pulling this all together (see document linked at the bottom of the first post). Very good to have broader context and not just be complaining about one race.

    I’m trying to reconcile the academic work

    Matt Ygelsias cites several papers that say moderates do no better in general elections than more extreme candidates do. But the NYT upshot cites two papers that say the opposite (basically one paper as the second is an elaboration on the first by the same author). I’m sorting through them but the paper I don’t like the conclusion of seems reasonably sound.

    There’s also an article in today’s Times on the California primaries but I think that’s an exceptional situation, not pertinent to our discussion.

    ADDED LATER: On reading this article cited by the Times I don’t think we can continue to say what Matt Yglesias said “THere isn’t evidence that moderates do better.” Despite not wanting to, I think they make a convincing case. There are studies that come to other conclusions but we have to get this one some credence.

    I still think the DCCC should stay out for other reasons but I think the “progressives fire up the base and are actually more likely to win” is less tenable than I used to. I’ll post about the other reasons when I have a chance.

  8. Jonathan, looking at this race was one of the main reasons that I asked the question about what are we considering “progressive vs. establishment”. After my research, I told Dale that I really liked this guy, but I thought he maybe got a little out ahead of his skis… The DCCC supported Gina Ortiz Jones, although Trevino seemed to be a ‘popular’ candidate, and he was a Bernie representative at the convention. There were originally a total of 5 candidates running for this seat (all of whom outspent Trevino, some by an immense margin). Gina Ortiz Jones made the runoff after winning 41.5% of the Democratic vote in the primary; Rick Treviño made the runoff after winning 17.5% of the Democratic vote in the primary. This is pretty much a ‘shoe-string’ campaign – he quit his job as a teacher to run and cashed in his IRA to fund the campaign. His website has a 1-page “Progressive Platform for the People” which includes a few sentences in each of 4 areas: Healthcare as a Right (Medicare for All), A Living Wage for America ($15 minimum), Free Public Colleges and Universities, Climate Change and Clean Energy. He has another webpage showing some of his activism, mostly in the area of food and nutrition. Endorsements are few and far between – I could find 4: Demand Universal Healthcare, Justice Democrats, National Nurses United and Our Revolution (Bernie Sanders’ group). This is the type of guy that you DEFINITELY want to see, but maybe not at this time in this race?

  9. To be more specific about Trevino, he spent $20K. He says he campaigned by knocking on doors in areas that others didn’t go to, i.e., where the working people live, and by emailing Sanders supporters. The winner in the race, Ortiz Jones, is a lesbian, Latina-American and Iraq veteran. I thought of Trevino as more progressive because he took more specific positions. Two examples are $15 minimum wage (Trevino) vs. decent wages (Ortiz Jones) and free college tuition vs. make college affordable. But maybe she was just being more careful and would vote about the same as he would.

    Trevino said that he was happy that the DCCC came in to support Ortiz Jones and that it would help him. The first article I read suggested that he expected a backlash like the one that Laura Moser benefited from in the primary but not the run-off.

    I think the real story here (that I missed until now) is that Trevino pushed out the third candidate, a likely winner. Jay Hulings was backed by Blue Dog Democrats (caucus of conservative Dems) and the Castro brothers (San Antonio Dems who act as kingmakers in local elections. He spent close to $400K and came in third. (Ortiz Jones spent almost as much.)

    So, if you think that we need more progressive candidates, the DCCC did the right thing in this case and supported the more viable “liberal”. If you think that we need centrist candidates to win against Republicans, then we got the wrong candidate.

    • Even if you think centrist candidates are better in general, I wouldn’t expect that a centrist who spent 400K and couldn’t get 20% of the primary vote would be a good candidate.

      It is interesting as an example of the DCCC picking a more liberal candidate IF, IN FACT, the DCCC came in while the first round was going on. I’d be very curious when the DCCC got involved.

      NOTE: On some investigation, I think that the DCCC only backed Ortiz Jones AFTER the first round. So, they were not picking the more liberal candidate.

      • Two updates after the 6/5 primaries in CA, NJ and elsewhere.

        Quickly, DCCC-Backed Mikie Sherrill who looks like a good candidate and Jeff Van Drew, who hardly qualifies as a Democrat, won easily in NJ. But worth noting that the Congressional Black Caucus had supported Mikie’s opponent. And, both would likely have won without DCCC support so unclear what was gained by DCCC involvement in the primary. So, again this raises the issue of whether DCCC should be engaged in primaries.

        The Dems averted a catastrophe of being shut out (except in CA-08 which seems not to be flippable in any case). But, that isn’t thanks to the DCCC. For instance, in CA-48, the DCCC supported Rouda while the California Democratic Party supported Keirstead. The two ended up deadlocked for second place. This isn’t a terrible outcome but if Republican Baugh had gotten just 1,300 more votes, it would have been a disaster as the Dems would be locked out. It seems to me that the DCCC’s involvement increased the risk of a lock-out.

        There are indications that the GOP actively worked to exploit this.
        Democrats allow GOP to game top-two primary
        Prominent Republican’s entry into Rohrabacher race would scramble competitive contest

        Note: As of Feb. 25 (the latest date I could find prior to Baugh entering race) the DCCC had not posted Rouda on Red to Blue.

        http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-harley-rouda-campaign-goes-negative-in-1518640860-htmlstory.html

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