Nov 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

DCCC chair candidate vows end to consultant ban

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

One congressman aiming to lead the House Democrats' campaign committee wants to do away with a ban against political consultants who worked for candidates that challenged the party's appointed picks.

Why it matters: As Democrats assess unexpected losses last month and the shortcomings of their digital operations, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney says House members must regroup and field their best players before crucial 2022 midterms.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ban "separated ourselves from some of the most creative and diverse people working in politics, particularly in the area of digital and social media," Maloney said in an interview with Axios.

The big picture: The election for DCCC chair will be held at the end of this week. The winner must keep an emboldened left-wing flank happy while fighting off historical trends under which Democrats lose House seats in the midterms.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez encouraged small-dollar donors to "pause" their donations to the DCCC and started her own PAC to support progressive challengers after the vendor policy became official.
  • The website for her group explicitly called out the DCCC: "When community leaders, activists and working-class candidates try to run for office, organizations like the DCCC discourage them."
  • Some members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus withheld their DCCC dues for several weeks in protest.

What he's saying: During his interview, Maloney said, "I think that consultant ban needs to be completely re-examined, because it has had unintended consequences, even as we should always reassert the principle of defending our own members."

  • He also wants Democrats to move away from the "flawed" polling they've used over the last few cycles and shift to emphasize qualitative analysis through more focus groups, voter interviews and "quicker, cheaper, better" digital surveys.

Last week Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) who’s also running for DCCC chair, told "Axios on HBO" he wants to see the DCCC change "overnight" and that Democrats need to be more "culturally competent" with Latino voters if they want to be successful.

  • Maloney said he plans to “elevate Latinas at the DCCC" — like Reps. Veronica Escobar and Linda Sánchez — if elected, "and improve our cultural competence as we look to communicate with many different Latino communities around the country."
  • But it's not just Latinos: Maloney emphasized the power of Black voters and female voters. He offered Stacey Abrams' work in Georgia as a model for what the DCCC can do at the congressional level.
  • "We should deploy them in the districts where we need to win, which ought to be easier, frankly, than doing it in a big state like Georgia."

The other side: The rule earned praise from more moderate Democrats — those more likely to face primary challengers to their left — and from many members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Don’t forget: After Democrats lost the White House in 2016, Maloney spent five months to produce an election autopsy aimed at telling his House colleagues how they could improve their fortunes in 2018.

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