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'An Enormous Win': Progressives Hail Official End of DCCC Consultant Blacklist

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the ban had "created a lot of dissuasion against candidates even considering grassroots organizing firms."

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) pauses while speaking as Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) react during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

Progressive primary challengers including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.; second from right) vehemently opposed the DCCC policy of denying funding for consultants seeking work on campaigns against Democratic House incumbents. (Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

Progressives on Tuesday cheered news that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is officially lifting a controversial ban on political consultants or firms who worked for candidates mounting primary challenges against incumbent House lawmakers. 

"We have primaries to make sure we have the best and the brightest in every party. So primaries should be unemcumbered by outside forces." 
—Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.)

Politico reports DCCC chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) pronounced the end of the ban Tuesday morning, fulfilling a promise he made while campaigning for the position. The policy, which was implemented in 2019, prohibited the DCCC from hiring or even recommending contractors offering services to primary candidates running against Democratic House incumbents.

Progressives seethed at the proscription, which they said unfairly targeted them. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), then vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, called the policy "an unprecedented grab of power" and "a slap in the face of Democratic voters."

Despite concerns that the policy could continue unofficially, leftist lawmakers applauded the shift. "It's an enormous win," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told Politico. "The escalation and aggression against the progressive wing of the party with an explicit forward-facing 'blacklist' created a lot of dissuasion against candidates even considering grassroots organizing firms."

Ocasio-Cortez—who got to Congress by defeating a 10-term Democratic incumbent in 2018—added that the ban's end would open "a door for our party to leverage strength from all parts of it." 

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Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.), whose successful 2020 campaign against conservative Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinksi was beset by consultant cancellations due to the ban, also welcomed its demise. 

"We have primaries to make sure we have the best and the brightest in every party," Newman told Politico. "So primaries should be unencumbered by outside forces."

Last month, Maloney told Politico that the ban—which was implemented under his DCCC predecessor, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)—never "made sense" to him. 

However, Maloney also said that "no one should be looking for work around here if they want to go after one of our members at the same time," prompting concerns that the ban could still persist in practice. 

The short-lived official ban was welcomed by centrist Democrats seeking to stymie progressive upstarts. It was embraced by members of the Congressional Black Caucus as entrenched incumbents tried—and sometimes failed—to ward off newcomers like Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), the Black Lives Matter activist who last year ousted Rep. Lacy Clay, a Democrat whose family had represented St. Louis in Congress for half a century. 

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