Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a profile on 60 Minutes last night and I will give interviewer Lesley Stahl some points for challenging her. Stahl asked point blank about the problems Pelosi is having the the progressive members of the party and when Pelosi answered, Stahl challenged her again. Here is a short clip:
Stahl isn’t wrong and the latest kerfuffle over Representative Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments drive the point home. It is not at all apparent that Nancy Pelosi can stop the insanity the rookies bring to the news cycle.
But there is one woman in the caucus who may stop the hemorrhaging. You need to know who she is, what she has accomplished and what she is planning.
Meet Representative Cheri Bustos. She was elected in Illinois’ District 17 in 2013. The 17th District is not downtown Chicago. It is smaller towns and rural areas with the largest city being Peoria. She retained her seat in 2016 in a district that Trump won and again in 2018.
Her background is as American as apple pie. She is proud of her family’s roots in agriculture and education and is married to a police officer with three sons. Before entering politics she had a career in investigative journalism and as an executive in the healthcare industry.
She is a member of the Bipartisan working group and is a member of the New Democrat Coalition. She is a capitalist, focused on jobs and growing the economy to benefit everyone. She certainly holds some left of center positions, but she is not an extremist or a socialist.
And she is making life very difficult for those who are. As Chair of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, she has kneecapped insurgent primary campaigns of incumbent Democrats by implementing new guidelines for contractors. She held firm as objections were raised by members of the Justice Democrats who successfully primaried two incumbents in the last cycle and tried to impact fundraising.
Score Bustos. The DCCC raised a record amount in the first quarter of this year despite the Justice Democrats “DCCC Blacklist” effort. She also has complete control of candidate recruitment. Her committee is made up completely of members from the New Democrat Coalition.
So while the Justice Democrats try to remake the party in a far left Progressive image, Bustos and company will be recruiting candidates of a much more moderate stripe. And they are coming for you Texas.
Candidates endorsed by the New Democrats in 2018 won a total of 27 seats making them the most effective groups on the left at identifying and electing members to new seats. Especially in Republican-held districts. Seventeen of their wins were net gains for the Democrats.
It will be interesting to see how Bustos and company respond if the Justice Democrats find someone to challenge Representative Henry Cuellar in the primary. My bet is they are organizing in advance to effect a crushing defeat.
But they are also organizing to come for a total of six Republican-held seats in the state. Districts around Dallas, Houston, and Austin better get their game on. Bustos is building a formidable machine that has already put some wins on the board. If the Texas GOP isn’t awake and organizing, someone needs to sound the alarm.
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