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Retiring Florida Democrat hits out at leadership for promising ‘rainbows,’ then targeting moderates

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Friday announced that it hauled in a record $19.3 million last month as it builds resources to try and hold its razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections.

But as the House Democrats’ re-election arm was touting its massive February fundraising figures, it was also playing some defense, reacting to some biting comments from a high-profile moderate Democratic representative in a swing district who’s retiring from Congress at the end of the year.

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The lawmaker is three-term Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, who helped lead the group of centrist Democrats known as the Blue Dogs back into power players amid a party that’s shifted to the left, and who landed a spot on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Murphy, in an interview with Politico that was showcased Friday morning in Playbook – which is well-read inside the Beltway and in the wider political and campaign orbits – took aim at the DCCC.

Murphy charged that House Democratic leadership became less tolerant of moderates in their conference after they won back the chamber’s majority in the 2018 midterms.

“With us being in the majority, that tolerance eroded a bit. It’s unfortunate, because I think in order for us as Democrats to hold the majority, you have to be able to win in seats like mine and in redder seats. That means you have to cut your members a little bit of leeway to vote their district,” Murphy told Politico. “This march towards party unity is going to be detrimental to our ability to lead.”

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Murphy claimed that House Democratic leadership tried to “beat moderates into submission” to pass President Biden’s agenda over the past year.

She also charged that DCCC chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York appeared to try and force some moderate House Democrats to vote for Biden’s agenda by threatening to withhold funding.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., on Capitol Hill in 2019. 

DCCC communications director Chris Hayden reiterated that “at no point did the chairman or others threaten resources.” He emphasized that the DCCC is “not shy about telling anyone that we think passing Biden’s agenda is critical to our success” in keeping the majority.

The GOP lost the White House and their Senate majority in the 2020 election cycle, but House Republicans defied expectations and took a big bite out of the Democrats’ House majority. The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member chamber in November’s midterms to win back the majority.

Murphy argued that Democratic leadership “can’t keep promising rainbows and unicorns” to their base “when your political reality is such narrow margins in the House and a dead-even Senate.”

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