The West Front of the Capitol is seen as work continues on the stand for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. Trump will be sworn in at noon on Jan. 20, 2017 as America's 45th president. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The most dangerous Democrat in Congress is not Nancy Pelosi. It isn’t Ilhan Omar. It is not even Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. As I have written previously, it is Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
While everyone is losing their minds over the latest stupidity on AOC’s Twitter feed or Instagram page, Bustos and her team are going about the work of recruiting candidates for 2020. And they are following the game plan from 2018 looking for candidates that will appeal in moderate swing districts.
Reportedly, the DCCC is also working with Future Majority, a dark money group that is focused on countering Republican talking points. On their website they refer to themselves as “the strategy center for Democrats”. Focusing on renaming socialism as “smart capitalism” and leaning away from Medicare for All they look to repeat the work they did in 2018 to win purple districts.
In April of this year, Bustos also announced that Texas would be ‘ground zero’ for the Democrats in 2020. Her own talking points include middle class advocacy and being business friendly. She caucuses with the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) whose mission is as follows:
The New Democrat Coalition is made up of more than 100 forward-thinking Democrats who are committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies. New Democrats are a solutions oriented coalition seeking to bridge the gap between left and right by challenging outmoded partisan approaches to governing. New Democrats believe the challenges ahead are too great for Members of Congress to refuse to cooperate purely out of partisanship.
It appears that Bustos and her committee members, also from the NDC, are working to remake Congress in their own image. Meet Kim Olson who recently announced her candidacy in TX-24. She ran for Agricultural Commissioner last cycle losing by 5 points. Now she is challenging Rep. KennyMarchant (R) who won by the smallest margin in his 14 year tenure in 2018.
Take a look at her launch video:
If this is the type of challenger Bustos and the DCCC are turning up, the GOP best be paying attention. Texas can not meet the same fate as California in the last cycle. It’s time to get granular and get real.
Incumbents need to be asking specifically, what these challengers will vote for to help fix the crisis at the border. Using the key items from current Republican proposals, make sure the challenger is on record with how they will vote on them. They need to press on the Democrats radical position on abortion and make the challenger answer on their policy position in very specific terms. It is a nuanced issue we need to get better about being specific.
There are a couple of bright spots. Candidates like Kim are the antithesis of the AOC wing of the party. They are key to Nancy Pelosi maintaining her majority. It is possible this fissure will become obvious, especially since the Justice Democrats have hinted they are going to present a primary challenger for Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX 28). This could cause visible friction within the state.
The other notable item that needs to be driven home home, is all the “moderates” voted in during the 2018 cycle, have voted lockstep with the more radical positions of Speaker Pelosi’s caucus. They have not broken ranks in significant numbers on the border or other key issues that are generally important to purple district voters.
However, keeping Bustos and her committee from additional gains can’t rely on luck. It is going to require laser focus at the local and national level to refine the Republican message, highlight the records of the last group of so-called moderates, and boots on the ground to get out the vote.
Get off Twitter and get out knocking doors. If Nancy Pelosi is correct about a glass of water with a ‘D’ on it being electable in AOC’s district, we have years more of her stupid tweets to mock. Let’s work to make sure she is in the minority in the House next Congress. 3