A progressive Democrat who is running to represent Houston, Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives is being negatively targeted by the House campaign arm of her own party, and EMILY's List, a powerhouse group that works to elect pro-choice women, has opted to support an opponent with corporate ties, according to a series of reports this week.
"The days where party bosses picked the candidates in their smoke-filled rooms are over. D.C. needs to let Houston vote."
—Laura Moser, Democratic candidate for US House
Laura Moser, a journalist and creator of the text messaging app Daily Action—which lets subscribers know about a simple civic action they can take to fight President Donald Trump's agenda—is one of seven Democrats battling for the opportunity this November to unseat incumbent Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) in Texas's 7th District, which former Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the party's House campaign arm, has posted on its website opposition research that labels Moser as a "Washington insider." As a team of reporters detailed at The Intercept, the DCCC's dossier on Moser "takes a snippet of Moser's writing from 2014 in Washingtonian magazine out of context," and implies that she is corrupt because she paid campaign funds to her husband's political consulting firm.
"That the DCCC would attack a Democrat for funneling money to a campaign consultant is itself rich, given how the organization habitually steers candidates to its own consultants," The Intercept reporters pointed out. "Its nickname in Washington, after all, is 'the consultant factory,' as so many of its operatives go on to be campaign consultants working on the party dole."
The Texas Tribune, which also reported on the DCCC's blitz, spoke with the group's communications director, Meredith Kelly, whose statements and social media commentary indicate the party's attack on Moser is likely tied to concerns that she wouldn't be able to defeat the Republican incumbent in November.
Referring to a magazine article in which Moser explained how she wouldn't ever move to a certain Texas town where some of her family lived, Kelly said, "Moser's outright disgust for life in Texas disqualifies her as a general election candidate, and would rob voters of their opportunity to flip Texas's 7th in November."
Kelly also retweeted a response to Ryan Grim, one of The Intercept's reporters, in which one observer remarked, "I think the DCCC believes they'll struggle to win in November with Moser."
Responding to the attack by her own party, Moser told the Tribune: "It's disappointing to hear it from Washington operatives trying to tell Texans what to do. These kind of tactics are why people hate politics."
"The days where party bosses picked the candidates in their smoke-filled rooms are over," she added. "D.C. needs to let Houston vote."
The reports sparked intense criticism from progressives, who decried the behavior by the Democratic Party establishment. "DCCC's actions unfortunately reveal a party establishment cracking down on leaders who challenge their way of doing things. They believe we need Democrats who can cater to the agenda of Wall Street and the wealthy donor class," said Justice Democrats, which has endorsed Moser.
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Many others weighed in on social media, with journalist Nomiki Konst tweeting: "Capitalist centrists are on a power crusade to smear anyone who challenges them. People need a voice in government."
— Nikhil Goyal (@nikhilgoya_l) February 23, 2018
Why is the @dccc attacking progressive #prochoice Democratic woman @lcmoser in #tx07 to back a candidate who built her career at a union-busting law firm? No wonder Dems have LOST over 1000 seats in the last 10 years.
— DemocracyForAmerica (@DFAaction) February 23, 2018
But the efforts to challenge Moser's candidacy aren't limited to her party. In an earlier piece for The Intercept, Grim reported on how EMILY's List, "one of the Democratic Party’s biggest power brokers," is supporting corporate attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher—whose law firm, which often represents employers facing challenges from their employees or unions, has raised concerns among working-class voters (the AFL-CIO has even reportedly encouraged its members to vote for any other Democrat but Fletcher).
"I knew as a progressive, pro-choice woman running in Texas, I would face obstacles. I never dreamed EMILY's List would be one of them."
While there are seven Democrats competing for the chance to take on the November election in the Texas district, the decision by EMILY's List to choose sides between the only two female contenders could actually sabotage the group's purported mission to help Democratic women get elected, as Grim notes.
"With both Fletcher and Moser battling for a spot in the two-person runoff, and [cancer researcher Jason] Westin surging in the race," he explains, "EMILY's List's endorsement of Fletcher could end up having the paradoxical effect of producing a runoff between the two men."
"Rather than lifting us both up, EMILY'S List has pitted us against each other," Moser told The Intercept. "I knew as a progressive, pro-choice woman running in Texas, I would face obstacles. I never dreamed EMILY's List would be one of them."
Ilyse Hogue, president of the reproductive rights group NARAL, expressed disappointment with the attacks launched against Moser:
Disappointed and dismayed to see anyone going after a genuine progressive and pro-choice committed leader like Laura. As a fellow Texan, I applaud @lcmoser and her family for striving to represent the people of our great state being harmed right now. https://t.co/OwDhaCjrIr
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) February 23, 2018