Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen going through a metal detector before entering the House floor.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is focusing on three Republicans in particular: Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama. An organizer of the “Stop the Steal” rally preceding the attack has said all three helped organize the gathering.

  • DCCC will also target other Republicans to whom those three members steered campaign contributions.
  • “Every penny of that should be sent back, if they are serious that the insurrection was unacceptable," Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs the DCCC, told Axios.
  • They “were lighting the fuse that exploded on Jan. 6,” Maloney (D-N.Y.) added.
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee declined to comment.

What’s happening: Among the other members the DCCC hopes to saddle with the financial and political fallout from the Capitol attack are Reps. Mike Garcia of California and David Schweikert of Arizona. Both voted against the election certification.

  • Maloney said the effort will target vulnerable Republicans such as Pennsylvania's Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. He didn’t vote against certification but took $2,000 from Biggs’ campaign committee in 2019.
  • Brooks, Biggs and Gosar have steered campaign cash to dozens of additional colleagues over the last two election cycles. Biggs has also donated substantial sums to the NRCC.

Between the lines: The fallout from the violence is already taking a financial toll on Republicans involved with the decertification effort. Multiple Fortune 500 companies have paused their political giving for members who objected to certification.

The condemnation isn't confined to corporations or the Democratic Party. Independent political groups have also sprouted up since last week.

  • Former aides to ex-Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill formed a group this month to go after Sen. Josh Hawley, the Missouri Republican who unseated McCaskill in 2018 and led the Senate's anti-certification effort.
  • Another group, the Sedition Accountability Project, says it will take on Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, the only senator who voted against certification and is up for reelection in 2022.

The bottom line: Robin Logsdon, the political consultant who formed the Sedition Accountability Project, told Axios he thinks the violence is a no-brainer political issue for Democrats.

  • “I feel like the ads write themselves,” he said.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the Stop the Steal organizer claimed Biggs, Gosar, and Brooks helped organize the rally, not that they helped finance it.

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