‘Circular firing squad’: Democratic power players are split on the Virginia blame game and how to prepare for the midterms

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  • Democratic Party officials and donors are divided over who is to blame for several state-level race losses this month
  • They are also divided over how the party might recover in the 2022 mid-term Congress elections.
  • Many wealthy donors have indicated that they are used for fundraising and contributing to the Democratic National Committee.

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Democratic Party officials and donors are divided over who is to blame for several state-level race losses this month – and they are also divided over how the party can recover in the 2022 midterm congressional elections. Is.

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The biggest losses occurred in Virginia, including Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the gubernatorial election over former governor Terry McAuliffe. In New Jersey, several Democrats lost in the local race, while Governor Phil Murphy overcame a more difficult challenge than Republican Jack Ciatarrelli had expected.

Many wealthy donors have indicated that they are used to fundraise and contribute to the Democratic National Committee, which is the political arm of the White House when a Democrat is president, and to assist with campaigns across the country.

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According to people familiar with the matter, these donors believe the DNC did not do enough to help their favorite candidates, McAuliffe in particular. Some of the commenters for this story declined to be named for fear of seeing retaliation from party leaders.

John Morgan, a Florida-based businessman who has raised and contributed to Democrats for years, was among a group of donors who told CNBC earlier this month they were giving to the DNC, and the Democratic congressional campaign. Can put a stop to the funding of the committee. If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., decides to retire. The DCCC is the campaign arm of the House Democrats, who are fighting to maintain their majority.

“I’ll never give the DNC another penny. If Pelosi doesn’t run, I’ll never give another penny to the DCCC. I didn’t sign up to be a socialist,” Morgan, Who has hosted McAuliffe? As for past fundraising events, said in an email after the recent election defeat. “I never see myself collecting a fundraiser again.”

Data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows Morgan contributed $35,500 to the DNC in August 2020. He was one of Biden’s bundlers during the 2020 election cycle. Pelosi has not indicated whether she will retire before the midterms next year, when Republicans are expected to take back the House.

Millions invested in Virginia campaign

The DNC has said it has invested nearly $6 million in the Virginia elections, which the committee said was the largest investment ever made in the state. The DNC also said it invested an additional $500,000 in the final weeks of the campaign to ticket the vote up and down for McAuliffe and the Democrats.

A spokesman for the committee told CNBC in an email Tuesday that it invested $1 million in the Battle of New Jersey. The representative also explained that so far this year, the committee has raised more than $127 million through September, the most campaign cash it says it has raised during a non-presidential year.

McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor, has ties to established party chiefs and influential financiers such as Clinton. His campaign raised more than $57 million on Election Day earlier this month.

Data from the Virginia Public Access Project shows that the top individual donors to his campaign this year included billionaire George Soros, billionaire philanthropist Pat Stryker, Chicago businessman Fred Eichner and Wall Street veteran John Griffin.

Several donors said they are concerned that Jane O’Malley Dillon, President Joe Biden’s deputy head at the White House and his former 2020 campaign manager, may prevent DNC ​​President Jaime Harrison from hiring the staff they want. They are also concerned that they could have too much influence on how the committee spends money, some of these people said.

An adviser to the president told CNBC that O’Malley Dillon does not make appointments to the DNC. This year the DNC brought on Roger Lau, who was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., campaign manager, as well as fellow Warren campaign alum Kristen Orthman.

DNC President Harrison recently told The Associated Press that he meets with O’Malley Dillon two to three times a month and they are building a friendship. “I will continue to push, I will continue to be creative, but Jen and I are working together in terms of trying to make this work,” he said. said,

In a statement to CNBC, Harrison denied there was any tension between him and the White House.

“As I have said on the record several times, there is a close working relationship between the White House, me and the entire DNC staff and anything to suggest otherwise is completely untrue. Anyone who knows me knows that I I treat the people I work with like family — and that’s exactly what we do for every last staff member,” Harrison said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “While many do not understand the role that the DNC has historically played when our party is in control of the White House, our focus remains on promoting President Biden’s agenda and continuing to serve the American people. “

According to a person familiar with the matter, concerns about the DNC have convinced some Democratic lawmakers to shy away from seeking help in next year’s elections in a credulously blue New York state.

A White House spokesman did not respond to questions seeking comment.

But other key figures in the party are touting other possible reasons for the Democrats’ issues. He believes these latest elections resulted in unexpected Republican turnout. They also say that Democratic campaigns need strong messaging to promote their party’s achievements in the midterm. These officials said that neither the White House, the DNC nor the state parties were to blame.

“It’s a circular firing squad,” said a lead fundraiser and campaign advisor.

Bradley Bechok, co-founder of Democratic super PAC American Bridge, told CNBC that the attacks on the DNC are “misleading.”

“Democrats need to work to band together, stop pointing fingers, pass the bill, and sell it for the medium term. It’s a lot more complicated than that,” Bechok said. Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday and Democrats are likely to campaign on that legislation in the upcoming elections. Democrats have yet to pass a nearly $1.8 trillion social spending proposal, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., says the Senate will approve the plan before Christmas.

A head of another influential Democratic outside group says the blame for the losses in Virginia is being directed largely at McAuliffe’s campaign and the fact that Congress is struggling to pass important legislation.

Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, hosted a virtual DNC fundraising event featuring Biden himself, shortly after the recent elections. Rendell told CNBC that the event raised more than $375,000, with more than a dozen people contributing to the gathering.

Rendell said party leaders cannot isolate the DNC because it works closely with the White House.

“When your party has a White House, you can’t tear the DNC apart and say, ‘How did they run this?’ They run it with the political arm of the White House. They made some mistakes. But they also did some good things,” Rendell told CNBC.

‘Take a deep breath’

Other leaders such as Rendell and New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs believe the party’s message and its efforts to pass legislation on Capitol Hill will have to improve in the midterm.

Both Rendell and Jacobs told CNBC that one of the reasons the party lost in the local race was because of the conflict MPs were passing important legislation at the time, such as the now-signed-in-law infrastructure bill, and how Democrats countered. Some of the narratives it failed to do are being pushed by Republicans.

Jacobs said the polls should show that if Democrats don’t take their message away from the progressive side of the party, they will suffer huge losses in the mid-term.

“If the Democrats are seen too far to the left, I think we run a huge risk. We will lose voters in the middle,” Jacobs said. If the economy recovers, the infrastructure bill comes through and the country starts moving around, Democrats could see gains in the medium term, he said.

Rendell wants bewildered donors to calm down a little.

“Take a deep breath. Wait and see how things develop. If they pass two bills and people clearly understand what those bills are doing, wait and see how St. What’s the temperature on Patrick’s Day,” Rendell told .

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