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Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters, as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) looks on, following a House Democratic Caucus meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on June 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Centrist Dems' New PAC Seen as Effort to Stop 'Squad' From Growing

The new political action committee appears to be "a corporate funded incumbent protection racket," said one progressive observer.

Andrea Germanos

New reporting out Saturday on the creation of a political action committee by a group of moderate House Democrats is being criticized by progressives as an effort to "protect corporate interests" and put a cap on the so-called Squad.

The new political action committee (PAC) is called Team Blue, as NBC News reported. Its May filing with the Federal Election Committee was noted last month by Politico Influence.

Team Blue, according to NBC News, "will help those who might be in safe seats for the party but facing a primary challenger," such as Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

The PAC is being established by Democratic Caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who told the outlet, "This effort to protect our members is an extension of my job as caucus chair." The two other lawmakers behind the PAC are Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Terri Sewell of Alabama. Gottheimer and Sewell, as NBC noted, "represent the more moderate factions of the Democratic caucus, which are more likely to see primaries from the left."

Max Berger, a political organizer who previously worked on Cori Bush's 2018 congressional campaign and with Justice Democrats—the PAC that helped elect progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—said in a tweet that it's an effort "to keep [the] Squad from growing." 

Saying the new PAC should be called "Injustice Democrats," Berger said it represented "a corporate funded incumbent protection racket."

A similar assessment came from Waleed Shahid, a spokesperson for Justice Democrats. "Democratic Party leadership has launched a PAC to stop the Squad from growing any further," he wrote in a Twitter thread in which he pointed to Jeffries' own start in the U.S. Congress by "primarying an incumbent Democrat."

Both Shahid and Rana Abdelhamid—who's running for Maloney's 12th Congressional District seat—shared NBC News' reporting by referencing comments Jeffries back in 2011 when he launched his challenge to then-Democratic Rep. Edolphus Towns of New York. "The incumbent has had 29 years to make a difference,” Jeffries at the time of Towns. "At this point, it's time to move in another direction."

The group of progressive members of Congress known as the Squad grew this year with newcomers including Democratic Congressmen Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones, both of New York. Their wins might be a motivating factor for the new PAC, tweeted the New York City chapter of the Sunrise Movement.

"When you can't stand that your district keeps electing Green New Deal proponents on the city and state level," the group wrote. "Primary season comes every 2 years, Rep. Jeffries."

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