The Democratic establishment is already taking steps to stop insurgent progressive challengers to the party's incumbents.
Marie Newman, who is challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in the 2020 primary for the Illinois 3rd District, told Politico on Friday that a number of vendors have already dropped out of her campaign—the direct result of a rule put in place by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) banning consultants and other campaign mechanics from working with anyone running against a sitting Democrat.
"I've had four consultants leave the campaign," Newman said. "We've now had two mail firms say that they couldn't work with us because of the DCCC issue, and then a [communications] group, a compliance group and several pollsters."
Consultants who planned to work with Newman said that the DCCC delivered the warning in the nicest terms possible—but that it was a very clear threat to their ability to do business with the DCCC.
The DCCC seems set in its decision to enforce the directive. On Thursday, representatives from the DCCC met with members of progressive PAC Our Revolution to discuss the rule. Our Revolution delivered the committee a petition to rescind the rules with 30,000 signatures, but the DCCC is standing firm, an aide told Politico.
"The DCCC has worked to change how Washington works, increase transparency in politics, and be perfectly clear with all its partners about the standards it expects of them," said the aide.
The Newman campaign, as Sarah Jones wrote in New York Magazine, is poised to test the limits of the DCCC rule:
Newman's nascent campaign has the potential to test outsider groups like Justice Democrats, alongside more established party partners like NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY's List. Pro-choice organizations backed Newman against Lipinski in 2018, and could do so again in 2020.
Lipinski's record as a conservative, anti-abortion Democrat came in for criticism from NARAL president Ilyse Hogue.
"Dan Lipinski votes against women's rights, LGBTQ rights and the Affordable Care Act, and the the DCCC is punishing his opponent, Marie Newman who stands up for all of those things," Hogue said in a tweet.
Dan Lipinski votes against women's rights, LGBTQ rights and the Affordable Care Act, and the the DCCC is punishing his opponent, Marie Newman who stands up for all of those things. Right now. When all of these things are under attack from a vicious right wing. No. Just don't.— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) April 26, 2019
The financial hit that Newman is taking may be acting as a warning, The Intercept reported Friday afternoon.
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"This has been very expensive for my campaign," Newman told The Intercept, "it's cost time and money and effort and frustration, but we're working through it."
As Common Dreams has reported, the battle between progressives and the DCCC over challenges to incumbents has raged for over a month, beginning in late March when the DCCC issued its new rules on vendors.
Reaction at the time was swift from progressives, particularly Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who unseated incumbent Mike Capuano in 2018 on the back of a left wing platform.
Capuano is now a lobbyist with Foley & Lardner.
"I believe fiercely in the potential of our party, but we cannot credibly lay claim to prioritizing diversity and inclusion when institutions like the DCCC implement policies that threaten to silence new voices and historically marginalized communities," Pressley said in a series of tweets on March 30.
"The lesson of 2018 is that our party is made stronger by the inclusion of diverse, disruptive candidates and vendors who bring different perspectives and experiences," Pressley added.
That's the message that progressives are embracing, some by starting an alternative campaign infrastructure meant to challenge the DCCC ban.
Members of the coalition were unsparing in their criticism of the DCCC Friday.
"By putting the protection of right-wing coddling incumbents ahead of our shared progressive values, the DCCC not only hurts the clarity of Democrats' messaging heading into 2020—they risk our chances of holding the House, winning the Senate, and retaking the White House," said Democracy For America Chair Charles Chamberlain.
The DCCC's behavior is "galling," said Data For Progress's Sean McElwee.
The DCCC has stripped a woman running for Congress of all of her consultants in order to protect an anti-choice man who doesn’t believe gay people are human beings. That’s what the DCCC stands for in 2019. Galling. pic.twitter.com/Yn7OgxLM3f— we’re going to pass AVR(@SeanMcElwee) April 26, 2019
Progressive Change Committee's Marissa Barrow said that Newman might have some stress from the DCCC, but that she could rely on her friends in the party's left wing base.
"Progressive challengers like Marie Newman will see more of this cronyism," said Barrow, "but the progressive grassroots will have their backs."