Dozens of College Democrats Chapters Boycott DCCC Over Policy Protecting Incumbents

DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.) / Getty Images
April 25, 2019

The Harvard College Democrats are leading a coalition of more than 40 Young Democrats chapters to boycott the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) over their policy to protect incumbent Democrats from primary challengers.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.), the new chairwoman of the DCCC, announced the new policy last month, and it drew the ire of progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.). The policy bans Democratic consultants from working with primary challengers if they want to continue doing business with the DCCC, and Justice Democrats consider it a "black list."

The coalition led by the Harvard College Democrats initially featured 26 chapters, but the coalition grew to 42 chapters, according to Harvard Democrats President Hank Sparks. Chapters involved in the boycott include: Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Michigan State University, Rutgers University-Newark, and the University of Virginia, The Hill reported.

"Primary challengers are essential to ensure that the Democratic Party is continually held accountable to the needs of our constituents. This blacklist policy is undemocratic and antithetical to our values of inclusion and diversity," the Harvard Democrats said in a letter Wednesday. "Challengers to incumbents have been essential to making the Democratic Party an institution that truly reflects the progressive values and diverse identities of the people it claims to represent."

DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter responded to the boycott by telling The Hill that the DCCC is "proud of its historic work, flipping 43 formerly Republican seats and electing the most diverse caucus in American history."

"And as Democrats in the House combat Republicans’ attacks on Americans’ health care, take on special interests in Washington, and fight for an economy that works for everyday Americans, we are already well into our work to fortify this newly won House Majority and take the fight even deeper into ruby-red districts come 2020," Leiter continued.

The College Democrats aren't the only ones upset over the new policy. Justice Democrats, a progressive PAC that helped elect Ocasio-Cortez last year, said the DCCC was "bullying" the progressive movement.

Progressive Caucus co-chairs Mark Pocan (D., Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D.,Wash), and caucus member Ro Khanna (D., Calif.) met with Bustos last month to voice their opposition to the new policy and demand it be reversed, but Bustos was unmoved.

Ocasio-Cortez has advised small-dollar donors to donate directly to Democratic primary challengers and boycott the DCCC.

"The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead."