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DCCC Tolerating "Recusals" by Faint-Hearted Leaders?

by: DavidNYC

Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 12:30 AM EDT

This is a post I wish I didn't have to write. But I think the DCCC is going down a very unwise path here, and I won't hesitate to call them out on it:

While some of our Members may not always be able to actively campaign with every candidate due to their local commitments and obligations, you can be assured that the DCCC will be there.

In a recent blog post at Swing State Project, there was frustration against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz's call that she would not be campaigning for South Florida candidates because of a long-standing tradition in South Florida to not campaign against member of the state delegation. But, we know from Rep Ron Klein's stellar campaign that sometimes that doesn't matter. In 2006 Alcee Hastings didn't campaign, in keeping with the tradition, and Ron Klein's meteoric rise to victory was unstoppable.

In short, this is not acceptable. There are no recusals in politics. Rahm Emanuel fought tooth-and-nail against this type of dysfunction, where faint-hearted Democrats refused to campaign against Republicans because of "local commitments and obligations."

If you're a member of the Democratic caucus, your first "commitment and obligation" is to the caucus, not to personal friendships with Republicans. That means you mentor challengers, raise money, protect vulnerable incumbents, and damn well don't go jawing to the press about how much you love this or that Republican, or talking down our candidates' chances.

Honestly, I'm a bit sickened to see the DCCC accept this kind of behavior. Rahm was furious - and rightly so - at Alcee Hastings for sandbagging Ron Klein. But you know which Florida incumbent said "screw it" to this ridiculous "tradition" and did everything she could to help Klein? Yep, that's right - Debbie Wasserman Schultz. At the time, Debbie said:

"It's not good for my relationship with Clay Shaw, but Democrats can't afford to leave a seat like that uncontested."

So she stuck her neck out and helped drag Klein across the finish line. But just because Klein managed to win in spite of getting kneecapped by a lazy incumbent in a super-safe district (D+29) like Alcee Hastings is hardly a reason to tolerate this sort of bullshit.

And Hastings, let's face it, is a backbencher - only the sixth federal judge in history ever to be impeached by Congress, whose questionable background precluded him from becoming chair of the Intelligence committee last year despite his seniority. Debbie Wasserman Schultz should want to be held to a higher standard. She's  a "rising star" in the party and co-chair of the Red to Blue initiative - the very program tasked with increasing our majority on the Hill.

And I can assure you, we aren't just unhappy at Debbie's refusal to help Raul Martinez, Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia. We're pissed that, for no reason at all, she went to the Miami Herald and told the paper:

"I can't say enough good things about Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; she has been my friend since I was first elected to office."

We're pissed that she's now decided to follow some ridiculous, hoary tradition that she had no problem abandoning two years ago. And we're pissed that she's fomenting discord and damaging morale among local Dems, too. And all this coming from an important leader at the DCCC. (Though don't think we've forgotten about Kendrick Meek, too.)

We in the netroots have always understood that if you are unwilling to help a fellow Democrat, that means you are helping a Republican. You can't privilege personal feelings over the good of the party - too much depends on it. Rahm Emanuel understood this, too. I realize that there is still a great deal of ossified dysfunctionality rusted into the joints of Congress. But the DCCC should be fighting against that dysfunction, not accepting it.

DavidNYC :: DCCC Tolerating "Recusals" by Faint-Hearted Leaders?
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When yer right, yer right n/t

primary them out?
I never liked Alcee Hastings much after reading that he was an impeached judge, and I wouldn't mind seeing Hastings and William Jefferson be taken out.  They live in heavily Democratic districts, so we can also afford to primary-challenge both of them out of office.

What's the PVI on WS's?  IIRC, it's something like D+20 as well.  We could quite easily make a point by throwing a primary challenger at WS.

Heh, I'm in an anti-incumbent mood, like the rest of the country.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

So basically the DCCC is saying they're ok with Democrats doing this and particularly even worse those in their leadership. I can't believe this.

Well I for one will not be giving any money or support to the Florida Democratic Congressional delegation. They are just dumb and out of control.

They just handed their state to John McCain.

They just declared that they would block the state Democratic Party from conducting a vote-by-mail primary. This would have been the best solution for the delegate mess in Florida. It would have been fairly cheap. It would have been fairly easy to do (OR and most of WA do it and people love it). It would have excited the voters of Florida and it would have led both campaigns to create useful databases there.

Instead there will be a fight to seat the delegates as is or somehow split them evenly. No one will be happy.

And enough Democrats will get pissed off for being disenfranchised that McCain will easily win the state. Hell, he might not even have to spend much time or money there (a real problem).

Look, Florida is winable. More importantly, we need to be at least competitive there.

We just turned off a whole bunch of voters. We just shot ourselves in the foot big time.

And if we do the same thing in Minnesota....

Why would we do the same thing in MN?

[ Parent ]
I believe...
...e_koszyk means Michigan.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Lest we forget, Florida's congressional delegation is the profuct of a deliberate gerrymander to make a 50/50 state or thereabouts 16-9 Republican (and it was 18-7 before the last election).  The Democrats have the privilege of going unchallenged (6 of 7 in 2006; 7 of 7 in 2004) and residing in lopsided safe districts.

Meanwhile the state legislature is also gerrymandered and Florida Republicans were leading actors in stealing the Presidency using voter intimidation, riots, and deliberate breaking of state law (no help in Haitian patois in a sugar cane district, so 240 voters were disenfranchised).  Feeney, in particular, was the leader of the dead enders in the state legislature who were prepared to crown George W. Bush at any cost.

These are hardly the acts of nice people, DWS.  Look around.

Republican Infiltration?
When I see crap like this I really wonder if Republicans have run as Democrats in order to muddle things up for Dems.

They might vote as Dems, but they fight tooth and nail behind the scene to gum up the works.  

"First Commitment"
While I totally agree it's unacceptable for the Chair of the Red to Blue program to not, you know, participate in the program whole heartedly, I respectfully disagree with one assertion in the post.

A Congressperson's FIRST commitment is to their constituents.

Party is important, party loyalty is important, and these kinds of buddy-buddy recusals are simply unacceptable. But they're not unacceptable because party loyalty trumps all. They're unacceptable because party loyalty trumps everything EXCEPT a clear and obvious mandate from the people who elected them.

Just my opinion...

Yes. I agree.
A congressperson's highest-priority commitment should be to her/his constituents.

Therefore, if because of this, DWS can't fulfill her role as the R2B chair, then she should respectfully decline to be such.  Sorry.

At the very least she needs to emphasize that she will support whoever runs against these Republican representatives, even if she herself has nothing negative to say about them and will not be part of any campaign against them.  And that's at the very least.  More concessions if she's the committee chair of R2B.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
And I believe it would be beneficial to your constituents if
your neighboring district gets a better representative.

Even if you have nothing but glowing praise for the current representative, you owe it to your constituents to encourage people to elect a better representative.  Because in an ideal political system, this would either elect a better representative to your neighboring district or pressure that district's current representative to improve her/his job performance.

(Okay, fine, this isn't an ideal world.  But still.  I'm just giving a way to justify her supporting supporting a Democratic nominee instead of the Republican incumbent.)

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]

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