Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have begun weighing in on primaries much more often, breaking from an unspoken policy that Capitol Hill legislators stay out of challenges to incumbents, Politico reports.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., recently endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., in his campaign to oust incumbent Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a move that Politico notes “stunned Democrats.” A few days later, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., issued an endorsement for Alex Morse, a Massachusetts mayor looking to unseat House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., in a closely-watched primary.
"More and more members of Congress are going to look and say 'rules are rules' but if in fact there’s a district that’s suffering…we’re going to see a lot more members of Congress supporting challengers,” said Marie Newman, who beat Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., in a primary earlier this year after receiving the support of several prominent Democrats.
“If the establishment is going to start shooting at the outsiders and the pro-Trump elements of our caucus, then the bullets aren’t only going to be flying in one direction,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who supported the primary challenger to fellow Florida Republican Rep. Ross Spano.
Although both parties have long poured money into primary races to protect incumbents, Politico notes that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went a bit further by creating a “blacklist” of vendors who worked on primary challengers’ campaigns.
The campaign arms of the parties “operate on members’ dues,” said GOP strategist Brendan Buck. “To be able to get members to contribute, they need to convince them it’s an incumbent protection operation.”
He added that otherwise “that trust is eroded” and “the money stops coming in.”
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