Congressional Democrats’ political fundraising arm is open to anti-choice candidates, according to the organization’s chair.
“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), told The Hill in an interview.
The absence of a litmus test on abortion rights would clear the party’s campaign coffers for candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives who don’t support abortion rights.
DCCC Communications Director Meredith Kelly didn’t say whether that would translate into a proactive effort to court and fund anti-choice candidates seen as electable in red districts.
“We are a political committee charged with winning House races, and not in the business of pushing or deciding policy,” Kelly told Rewire in an email. “The DCCC is working to beat House Republicans in an expanded battlefield in 2018, and we do prioritize finding candidates who are authentic, fit a wide variety of districts and connect with those voters.”
Luján’s statement follows a number of prominent Democrats who have said the party doesn’t have a litmus test on abortion ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Newly elected Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez in May announced that he would meet with Democrats for Life, an anti-choice group that recycles far-right rhetoric and junk science in rejecting abortion rights.
On Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told the Washington Post that abortion was “fading as an issue” and that the party was not a “rubber-stamp” party on abortion. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, invoked the “big tent” argument in an April appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
And Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), an anti-choice Democrat and a member of the Senate’s leadership team, met with the architect of the Planned Parenthood smear campaign.
Reproductive rights and justice advocates fired back to the latest salvo.
Want to win elections? Try to win.
Alienating your base and flipping the bird to women’s human rights is not trying to win.
— Erin Matson (@erintothemax) July 31, 2017
Advocates agreed that the move could backfire on Democrats.
“It’s short-sighted and dangerous to pave the path to victory in 2018 at the expense of women,” Destiny Lopez, co-director of All* Above All Action Fund, said in a statement. “We urge the party to put its weight behind candidates who will stand with women.”
Lopez brought up Democrats’ “widely-lauded” 2016 campaign platform, which for the first time called for repealing the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations ban on federal funding for abortion implemented on a yearly basis. The discriminatory amendment disproportionately affects people of color and people with low incomes.
Democrats for Life used the meeting with Perez to urge the DNC chair to eliminate repealing Hyde from the party’s platform.