Rank-and-file House Democrats are protesting their leaders’ scheme to promote pro-Trump candidates in GOP primaries, a strategy based on the belief that they’ll be easier to beat in the general election.
Calling it “dishonorable” and “dangerous,” the lawmakers lashed out at Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and hatched the plan to spend the party’s campaign cash boosting candidates closely allied with former President Donald Trump.
“I don’t think anybody should be spending money promoting election deniers,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Florida Democrat. “There’s enough misinformation out there that no one should be amplifying those messages. It’s dangerous for our democracy.”
Rep. Dean Phillips, Minnesota Democrat, said he was particularly disappointed with his party spending on the GOP primary opponent of Rep. Peter Meijer, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting the U.S. Capitol riot in 2021.
“The fact that it’s Peter Meijer, who I think is one of the most honorable Republicans, is what further disappoints me,” he said.
“Our country is struggling with its faith in government, its trust in our electoral system. And I think when a major political party actually promotes the very people that we have articulated time and time again are a great risk to our country, I can’t see how anybody could read that any differently than I just did. Which is: it is dishonorable,” Mr. Phillips said.
In Mr. Meijer’s primary race in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, the DCCC is spending roughly $500,000 to promote John Gibbs, a Trump-endorsed former official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Democratic organizations’ meddling also included helping Republican gubernatorial nominees Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Dan Cox in Maryland win their respective GOP primaries.
“It is not the DCCC‘s job to support Republicans in primaries,” Mr. Phillips said. “Some could argue the means justify the ends; I’m not one of them.”
Mr. Maloney defended the DCCC’s strategy by saying they are simply advertising the facts about pro-Trump candidates such as Mr. Gibbs, which just happens to resonate with the GOP base.
“What this is doing is telling the truth about how John Gibbs is a dangerous extremist who’s too close to Donald Trump and too conservative for western Michigan,” Mr. Maloney recently told reporters at the Capitol.
Mr. Maloney is also catching heat from far-left activists who say the duplicity underscores what’s wrong with the Democratic Party’s more moderate establishment.
“Democratic Party leadership will literally support Republicans before they start supporting progressives,” tweeted Justice Democrats, which recruits and supports far-left candidates such as New York’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In Michigan, the DCCC is airing a 30-second ad that ostensibly attacks Mr. Gibbs’ far-right or pro-Trump stances, but the themes also appeal to conservative voters.
If Mr. Gibbs prevails in Tuesday’s primary, Democrats calculate he will be easier to beat in the Nov. 8 general election against Democratic candidate Hillary Scholten, who is running unopposed in the primary.
Mr. Meijer said the DCCC is “talking out of both sides of its mouth.”
“It’s just this is a town that I think is willing to tolerate a staggering degree of hypocrisy and this is still beyond staggering,” he told The Washington Times.
Still, some Democrats support the DCCC’s strategy.
“Sean has got a tough job, and I’m not gonna second guess him,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, Michigan Democrat. “I’m focused on one particular race, and it’s mine, and I won’t second guess him on the rest of them.”