September 15, 2015

DSCC Taking On Water For Primary Map Disaster

It’s long been reported that Democrats have a primary problem, but in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Florida, it’s become a full-blown crisis. A new report from Politico details the inter-party drama:

Democrats would prefer not to have [Ohio Senate candidate] Sittenfeld’s campaign sniping at Strickland. They would feel better about their chances in Pennsylvania if former Rep. Joe Sestak and former state environmental protection secretary Katie McGinty weren’t about to spend months and millions battling each other instead of focusing their energies on incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey. And in Florida, some Democrats fear next August’s primary could produce a virtually unelectable nominee.

The ways in which the DSCC is mucking up primaries across the country are remarkable in their variety. In Ohio, the committee has actually courted and then rejected fresh-faced P.G. Sittenfeld in favor of perennial politician Ted Strickland:

National Democrats were initially excited when 30-year-old Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld entered Ohio’s Senate race earlier this year. His youth, relatively brief career in politics, his liberal stances – all set up strong contrasts with well-funded GOP Sen. Rob Portman.

Now, Sittenfeld is a problem. He’s not committing gaffes or otherwise making himself unelectable statewide. He’s just not the party’s preferred candidate: popular 75-year-old former Gov. Ted Strickland…

…In Ohio, Democrats face a problem largely of their own making. Sittenfeld had been in regular contact with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – until Strickland got into the race in the spring.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Angst among local Democrats fed up with the heavy-handed tactics from D.C. has been simmering for months:

There’s been some grumbling about national Democrats’ tactics. In Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania, groups of local Democrats have complained about D.C.-based operatives trying to dictate the outcome of state-based elections.

In fact, DSCC backing is becoming so toxic that Democrats fear it could actually hurt candidates in supposedly friendly territory:

In two safely blue states with primaries unlikely to alter the balance of power – California and Maryland – establishment endorsements could alienate key voting blocs.

A new wrinkle has the DSCC taking heat from Democrat insiders for not strong-arming challengers to their handpicked candidates forcefully enough:

“I don’t think leadership at the DSCC has done an effective job at avoiding some of these primaries,” a Democratic strategist who requested anonymity to speak frankly about his own party said. “When you have a candidate like Sittenfeld who’s willing to engage with national Democrats, you have a lot more leeway to convince him not to run.”

Now that’s putting the “Democratic” in DSCC.