Congressional Black Caucus Chair at Odds With Rep. Steve Israel

Image: Congressional Black Caucus Chair at Odds With Rep. Steve Israel Rep. Marcia Fudge, left, and Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Steve Israel.

Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 07:56 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The relationship between Rep. Marcia Fudge, chairwomen of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, remains frosty, the National Journal reported.

There is a history of institutional tension between the two Democratic bodies rooted in different campaign financing priorities, disputes over patronage and the extent of minority representation on the campaign committee.

Caucus members are expected to raise campaign funds for the committee. Since they come from solidly Democratic districts, the members seldom see any campaign money coming back to their coffers for their own races, the National Journal said.

Party committees, which let contracts for campaign related expenditures, funneled just 2 percent of their largesse to minority vendors. The committee has asked the caucus to recommend minority vendors to increase diversity but Fudge is said not to have responded.

Disputes also became personal. That happened during former congressman Rahm Emanuel's tenure as committee chairman in 2006, the National Journal said. It also appears to be the case now. An unnamed Democratic strategist said that Fudge does not like Israel, the National Journal reported.

Israel antagonized Fudge when in 2011 he told the caucus, according to the National Journal, "Can we win the House without the CBC? Yes. Do we want to win the House without the CBC? No." He later apologized for the "misstatement."

The former head of the caucus, Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, said he did not think the statement reflected Israel's real sentiments.

The remark is not the only grievance Fudge has against Israel. "No, I mean, it's a continuing issue. It's a continuing issue that shows that he doesn't really value … our caucus. It's a continuing issue," she said, according to the National Journal.

She told Roll Call, "I can only speak for myself: I would not be supportive of [Israel] maintaining a leadership position. I don't believe he's representative of the entire [Democratic] caucus."

The Ohio congresswoman's ongoing quarrel with Israel does not appear to be widely shared within the caucus. "I don't have any complaints about him as chair. He works hard at it. I see him working hard at it, and I support what he does," Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Missouri Democrat, told the National Journal.

Cleaver said that part of Fudge's leadership role is to be "extremely defensive" to perceived slights against the caucus or its interests.

Israel has appointed caucus member Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland to a senior position within the committee. This could position her to assume leadership of the campaign committee after Israel steps aside, the Journal reported.

Fudge said that despite all the work that Edwards does on the committee, "I still do not believe that we get the respect from the chairman that we should get," the Journal reported.

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