- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2019

The DCCC’s plan to stop doing business with consultants who try to unseat Democratic incumbents could backfire in Georgia, where former congressional candidate Michael Owens said the threat from Washington has sparked interest in his potential challenge of Rep. David Scott.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, hoping to protect incumbents against those sorts of challenges, announced earlier this year that it will refuse to do business with any vendor who works with a primary challenger.

That threat has actually helped him as he mulls another run, says Mr. Owens, who lost in the primary to Mr. Scott in 2014.

“I think I have gotten more calls from consultants around the county that would want to work for me after the DCCC put that out,” he told The Washington Times on Thursday. “I have had more people reach out than run away.”

The DCCC’s new rules have enraged liberals, who say the party is squelching their push to cleanse Congress of less progressive lawmakers.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has urged donors to withhold cash from the DCCC and instead give it directly to candidates. Liberal groups have created an online list at DCCCBlacklist.com where consultants planning to buck the DCCC can register.

The DCCC’s guidelines were an attempt to limit unnecessary primary fights that could sap money and make the party look bad, denting the ability to defend the new House majority.

One test is already shaping up in Illinois, where Marie Newman announced this week that she is running again to unseat Rep. Dan Lipinski in his Chicago-area seat.

Ms. Newman fell about 2,100 votes shy of defeating Mr. Lipinski in 2018 and employed several vendors who also did business with the DCCC.

Those groups now are being told they have to pick sides — aggravating, among others, Ms. Newman.

“I feel like the rule is overreach,” Ms. Newman told The Times on Thursday. “I don’t think it is democratic.”

She said women and minorities could face particular hurdles, as could upstart candidates who don’t already have a long contact list of Democratic consultants.

Ms. Newman said she isn’t sure what the impact will be on her because she hasn’t finished selecting all her vendors.

At least on paper, there are some decisions to be made.

Her 2018 campaign shelled out $30,000 to Sage Media to place radio ads and paid $25,000 to the Sexton Group for political consulting services.

The DCCC, though, was Sage Media’s top customer, according to an analysis from OpenSecrets.org that showed it received more than $32 million from them in 2018. Financial reports his year show they have received another $212,000.

The Sexton Group did almost $790,000 worth of business from the DCCC in 2018 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, and has added close to $570,000 more for texting services this year.

Jaimey Sexton, a principal at the Sexton Group, wouldn’t guess at how the DCCC rule will affect him.

“Given my current relationship [is] in Good Standing with the DCCC, I’m going to refrain from comment,” Mr. Sexton said in an email.

A woman who answered the phone at Sage Media on Thursday said no one could comment the DCCC rule.

Mr. Owens, a former Marine who recently stepped down as chair of the Cobb County Democrats, said the public, not the DCCC, should decide whether incumbents such as Mr. Scott have earned more time in office.

And he said he’s not considering challenging Mr. Scott in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District just to create a conflict.

“That is not what any of this is about,” he said. “I see this as a policy first movement driven by the people of the district that want better representation Any Democratic member of Congress or senator out there that is truly representing their people or putting strong policies out there for people I don’t think they have anything to worry about.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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