Some Democrats think that the controversy over "defunding" the police -- and other aspects of big-city progressivism -- cost their party seats in the 2020 congressional elections
House Democrats have chosen New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to lead their campaign arm in 2022, and Maloney has his work cut out for him.
Maloney defeated California Rep. Tony Cárdenas in the race to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, leveraging his knowledge of the committee’s inner workings and his own experience running in a competitive district. The caucus vote was 119-107.
Democrats enter the 117th Congress with their smallest majority in more than a century and face a difficult election cycle in 2022, since the president’s party typically loses House seats in midterm elections.
House districts will also be redrawn across the country to reflect population changes in the 2020 Census, and a Democratic effort to capture control of state legislatures that would control that process came up empty in November..
Maloney will succeed the outgoing DCCC chairwoman, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, who almost lost her own race after Democrats faced disappointments in races across the country. Instead of adding to their House majority, it’s shrunk to single digits, and Democrats did not defeat a single House GOP incumbent.
Cárdenas was vocal about reforming some of DCCC’s practices, including ending a contentious policy that banned the organization from hiring any consultant that has helped a primary challenger of a sitting Democrat — a practice that enraged progressives.
Maloney has acknowledged concerns with messaging and said he would reconsider the DCCC blacklist, though he has been mostly restrained — both publicly and privately — in his assessment of DCCC’s miscalculations.
“The smart thing for the DCCC chair to do is to say, I don't know what happened until I’ve really had a chance to dig into the numbers,” Maloney said in a recent interview.
As chair, Maloney will have an additional task of shepherding members through the decennial redistricting process, which is fraught with politics and internal bickering, particularly in states that are on track to lose a seat. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the Census Bureau will almost certainly not be able to release its reapportionment data in December, delaying states ability to draw new maps.
It’s entirely possible that redistricting alone creates enough red-friendly seats to place Republicans in the majority in 2022. The GOP has total control of the process in many key states, including Texas, Florida and North Carolina, which could have a combined total of 82 seats.
When asked whether proposals from the Left -- like defunding the police and banning fracking -- hurt Democratic candidates, Maloney told CNN that the House "didn't pass a single piece of legislation that had anything to do with defunding the police" and "never pushed socialism."
"Those are caricatures that our opponents used often with great dishonesty," Maloney told CNN. "I don't plan to enhance the attack by echoing it. There are tough messages being thrown at you in every challenging election cycle. My job is not to whine about it. My job is to win."
Cárdenas campaigned on his work as chairman of the Hispanic Caucus' BOLD PAC, but the group's process to endorse California Secretary of State Alex Padilla for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' Senate seat rubbed some members the wrong way. California Rep. Linda Sánchez, and another Hispanic Caucus member, Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, were among those whipping Democrats to support Maloney.
"I'm supporting Sean Patrick Maloney because he has the depth of experience to remake the DCCC, and he's personally committed