Sen. Bernard Sanders on Tuesday demanded the Democratic National Committee come out against the “dark money” that super PACs are spending in Democratic primary races to beat back far-left challengers.
Mr. Sanders said the spending by these Democrat-allied groups was an attempt to “crush the candidacies of a number of progressive women of color who are running for Congress.”
Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, said it would only make sense for Democratic leaders to oppose this spending given their opposition to GOP “dark money” and the party’s push to “take on the influence of big money in politics.”
“Dark money is dark money, whether it is funded by Republican billionaires or Democratic billionaires,” Mr. Sanders said in a letter to the Democratic Central Committee. “There is no question but that the continuation of super PAC money in Democratic primaries will demoralize the Democratic base and alienate potential Democratic voters from the political process.”
“I am writing to you today to demand that the Democratic National Committee make it clear that super PAC money is not welcome in Democratic primaries,” he said. “I believe the Party should make a public statement about our values and simultaneously consider actions that punish candidates who refuse to adhere to this principle.”
The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Progressives view the 2022 primary cycle as the next step in changing the Democratic Party from the inside by sending reinforcements to Washington who will push the party further to the left.
Those efforts, however, have faced pushback from super PACs aligned with the party establishment. These groups are spending millions trying in blue districts to defeat left-wing candidates backed by progressive leaders and liberal activist groups.
State Rep. Summer Lee, a favorite of progressive activists, has been attacked over the airwaves and via direct mail in her bid for the Pittsburgh-area seat that opened up after Rep. Mike Doyle, a Democrat, announced he was not seeking reelection.
The Democratic Majority for Israel poured $400,000 into the race and the United Democratic Project, an offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, spent over $2 million attacking Ms. Lee and bolstering Mr. Irwin’s bid, according to a Washington Post report.
Ms. Lee has the support of Mr. Sanders, as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Justice Democrats, a left-wing group.
Pennsylvania voters had the final say Tuesday when they voted to decide the four-person primary race that also included attorney Steve Irwin, who had Mr. Doyle’s support.
It is a similar story in North Carolina, where the United Democracy PAC has spent more than $2.1 million on behalf of state Sen. Valerie Foushee in the race for the seat in the 4th Congressional District that also featured Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who has the support of Mr. Sanders and far-left champions Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
In Texas’ 28th Congressional District, the United Democracy PAC has spent almost $1.2 million attacking progressive Jessica Cisneros and $660,000 seeking to boost Rep. Henry Cuellar.
“The goal of this billionaire-funded effort is to crush the candidacies of a number of progressive women of color who are running for Congress,” Mr. Sanders said.