POLITICS

Progressive Primary Challenger Raises Big Money Off Of DCCC Exclusion

Marie Newman, an Illinois Democrat, picked up almost $45,000 online since Friday.
Marie Newman, left, speaks with supporters at a campaign event in Feb. 2018. The Democratic Party has tried to undercut her s
Marie Newman, left, speaks with supporters at a campaign event in Feb. 2018. The Democratic Party has tried to undercut her second bid, but she shows signs of resilience.

Marie Newman, a progressive challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski for the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, received a flood of new online donations over the weekend following new details about the impact of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blacklisting on her insurgent campaign.

On Friday, Newman told Politico that four consulting firms abandoned her in response to the DCCC’s announcement in late March that it would not employ firms that work with primary challengers, and would discourage candidates from hiring them as well.

Moments after the report was published, the liberal group Democracy for America endorsed Newman’s primary bid. Both DFA and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee solicited donations for Newman from their sizable email lists.

The news and the show of support from outside groups had an impact. Between Friday morning and Monday evening, Newman’s campaign raised an additional $44,646 from 2,442 online donors, demonstrating that a segment of the Democratic electorate is motivated to help candidates precisely because they are shunned by the party establishment.

“We are incredibly grateful for all of these great folks from around the nation that donated to us,” Newman told HuffPost.

Newman’s haul adds to an already substantial campaign war chest. She formally announced her decision to challenge Lipinski a second time earlier this month, but began raising money for a bid earlier in the year. As of the start of April, her campaign had raised about $211,000, though some of it is earmarked for the general election.

But other progressive upstarts have posted even more impressive upticks in response to interference from the DCCC, which helps elect and reelect Democrats in the House. Laura Moser, a candidate in an open Democratic House primary in Texas, raised $60,000 in the 48 hours after the DCCC released an opposition research memo attacking her in February 2018.

Newman, a 55-year-old former nonprofit executive and management consultant, has also yet to fully recover from the loss of her consultants. Two firms dropped her after the DCCC decision and another two that she was in the process of hiring withdrew their offers.

Newman has hired some new consultants, but she is still searching for polling and direct-mail firms. And she laments having to spend two to three weeks recruiting new services for her bid.

“It was frustrating and very expensive, but we’re getting above and beyond it,” Newman said. “Nothing would be a mortal wound for me except losing the election.”

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the centrist chairwoman of the DCCC, has elicited outrage in progressive quarters for her decision to formalize what had previously been considered an unwritten ― and unenforced ― rule barring consultants that help challengers from doing business with the DCCC. Liberal activists see it as a deliberate attempt to silence new voices in the party that would have halted many storied political careers had it been in effect in previous election cycles.

Justice Democrats, the left-leaning group that backed the successful primary campaigns of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) in 2018, has set up a website of organizations and consultants willing to work with primary challengers despite the DCCC’s new policy. Last week, the Harvard College Democrats announced it was leading 26 chapters of the College Democrats in a boycott of the DCCC until the party reverses its stance.

Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez spoke out against the new policy with the latter calling on her followers to donate directly to candidates rather than through the DCCC. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who unseated former Rep. Mike Honda in a 2016 primary, has contributed $1,000 to Newman’s bid as well. Thus far, the only Democratic presidential candidate to endorse Newman is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). (Newman endorsed Gillibrand’s bid as well.)

For its part, the House campaign arm emphasizes that the rule would apply equally to conservatives hoping to unseat progressive members like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as it would to protecting socially conservative members like Lipinski.

Bustos met with representatives of the Illinois chapter of Our Revolution, a group that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run, to discuss their concerns and has plans for a broader meeting with progressive stakeholders in the near future. But a DCCC spokesperson said she has no intention of reversing her decision at this time.

Meanwhile, Newman is plowing ahead with meetings designed to reintroduce herself to voters in a solidly Democratic swath of southwestern Chicago and its nearby suburbs.

Newman, a resident of La Grange, Illinois, never really stopped campaigning since losing to Lipinski by about 2 percentage points in March 2018. She has held 53 meet-and-greets with voters since then, in an effort to figure out how she can improve this time around.

Newman’s 2018 primary bid drew support from national liberal donors, as well as abortion rights and LGBTQ groups. Lipinski is one of the only congressional Democrats with a record of opposition to abortion rights, discrimination protections for LGBT individuals and protections for undocumented immigrants.

But Newman, who also backs “Medicare for All,” a $15 minimum wage and a gradual path to free tuition at public colleges, is keen to emphasize her commitment to addressing the economic concerns that face even her more socially conservative prospective constituents.

“Wages have stayed exactly the same for roughly 25 years and everybody is feeling it,” Newman said. “The affordability of every day is getting harder and harder.”

Newman, who has a noticeable Midwestern accent and uses the word “gosh” liberally, believes people were not as familiar with her stances on kitchen-table economic issues during her previous run.

“People are saying, ‘I did not know that about you, Marie,’” she said. “It was a matter of getting to know me and understanding that I have real ideas and real solutions.”

HuffPost

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