Progressives hit attempt by Democratic Party establishment to crush primary challengers
Rep. Rashida Tlaib is the latest progressive member of the House to condemn the DCCC policy of opposing primary challenges to Democratic House incumbents. | Carolyn Kaster/AP

A new fight is emerging between progressives in the Democratic Party and the party’s establishment.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has announced that it will oppose any campaign by progressives who challenge incumbent Democratic representatives in the House.

The announcement is being condemned by newly elected Democratic progessives who see this as more than just a move to protect the party establishment but as an actual attack on democracy itself. They note that primary elections in the U.S. are often the arena for the widest discussion and debate on issues of importance to the people and point to the current primary campaigns of so many Democratic candidates for president as proof of their point. More issues are being discussed during these primary races than have been discussed for a long time in many general elections.

The DCCC cannot outright block progressive challengers to incumbents but to accomplish this aim it is saying it will blacklist any campaign consultants and operatives who work for such candidates.

To illustrate their point about how damaging this could be, progressives now in office who themselves challenged incumbents in primaries note that people like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York would not be in Congress today if the DCCC had instituted its new policy at the time that they had run for office.

“If we want a democracy that is truly reflective of our country’s beautiful diversity, then we must push back against the DCCC’s attacks on progressive insurgents,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan said in a statement she issued Saturday. “Join me in telling DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos to repeal this anti-democratic policy. Progressives in the House are speaking out for change, but it’s most important that the DCCC hears from you!

“Primaries are about bringing new ideas to our party, not making sure incumbents win re-election,” she said.

Tlaib is only one of the many new people in Congress whose presence there has already resulted in the advancement of a strong progressive agenda including Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and a $15 minimum wage.

“Our problems today are too urgent to go along with the status quo and hope to find a solution. That’s why we need to end this new DCCC rule,” she said.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.