Embattled House Democrats Turn Against Pelosi

Embattled House Democrats Turn Against Nancy Pelosi. http://drudgegae.iavian.net/v2/r?hop=http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/embattled-house-democrats-turn-against-nancy-pelosi-20141008&s=2


House Republicans have surprising new company in attacking Nancy Pelosi: her fellow House Democrats.

Three Democrats running in GOP-leaning House districts have used late-stage television ads in a bid to distance themselves from the liberal leader of Democrats’ House caucus—the same caucus they’re fighting to join in 2015.

“Here’s what I believe: Congress is broken,” says Gwen Graham, one of the Democratic Party’s top recruits, in a recent TV ad as a photo of Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner flashes on the screen. “Both parties—Republican and Democrat—are to blame. And both need new leaders in Washington.”

In Georgia, Rep. John Barrow, one of five Democrats to vote against Pelosi as party leader at the start of the 113th Congress in 2013, uses that fact as one of the key reasons to reelect him. “I voted against Nancy Pelosi as speaker,” Barrow brags to Georgians in a recent television ad.

And in Colorado, Democratic candidate Irv Halter is trying to gain some traction in a very Republican district by lumping in his opponent, Rep. Doug Lamborn, with the Democratic leader. “Career politicians like Doug Lamborn and Nancy Pelosi have failed,” Halter says, as he gestures toward photos of Lamborn and Pelosi. “…There’s only one way to change Washington: Vote them out.”

Both the Graham and Barrow campaigns have been supported by national Democratic groups allied with Pelosi, an alliance Republicans are eager to emphasize. Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said it was “an insult to voters for Democrats who are being propped up by her outside spending to be simultaneously pretending to be distancing themselves from her.”

Pelosi’s office declined to comment but did point to a recent Washington Post story showing that she is the most popular of the four congressional leaders—a dubious honor The Post described as “being the least-hated leader in the most-hated institution in America.”

As Election Day nears, it is not unusual for rank-and-file lawmakers and candidates to try to distance themselves from their own party’s brand, especially in hostile political territory. And with overall congressional approval at record lows and the congressional leaders all more hated than loved, using legislative leaders as a foil is growing in popularity.

In New Hampshire, for instance, GOP congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia recently refused to say if she would support Boehner for speaker—just days after he had campaigned with her. In New Mexico, Republican Rep. Steve Pearce likes to say that his vote against Boehner in 2013 is “probably the most popular vote I’ve made.”

And in Senate races, Democratic candidates have pushed away from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas recently suggested to donors that he’d like to replace Reid. In Georgia, Michelle Nunn’s father, former Sen. Sam Nunn, said she might not back Reid. And at a debate on Tuesday, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia declined to embrace Reid as well. “We could perhaps do better in both parties,” Warner said.

Still, the direct nature of the attacks—Democratic candidates attacking Democratic leaders in paid television ads—makes the latest wave uncommon.

“Campaigns,” replied Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “run their own races.”

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