Democrats are taking issue with a New York Times story Sunday asserting that the party’s elections arm is planning a “brutal triage” against some of its endangered incumbents in a desperate attempt to retain the House.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was sourced in the Times story as having admitted as much, but on Sunday afternoon he sharply disputed the claim.
“Today’s New York Times story erroneously suggests that the DCCC has decided not to allocate resources to specific campaigns,” Van Hollen said in a statement e-mailed to Raw Story. “That simply is not the case.”
In the article, headlined “Democrats Plan Political Triage to Retain House,” Times journalists Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse reported the following:
As Democrats brace for a November wave that threatens their control of the House, party leaders are preparing a brutal triage of their own members in hopes of saving enough seats to keep a slim grip on the majority.
In the next two weeks, Democratic leaders will review new polls and other data that show whether vulnerable incumbents have a path to victory. If not, the party is poised to redirect money to concentrate on trying to protect up to two dozen lawmakers who appear to be in the strongest position to fend off their challengers.
“We are going to have to win these races one by one,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, conceding that the party would ultimately cut loose members who had not gained ground.
Van Hollen shot back: “The DCCC is heavily invested in these campaigns [referenced in the article]. In each campaign mentioned, the DCCC has provided and continues to provide support for field operations and other key campaign activities.”
The rare scuffle between top politicians and arguably the nation’s leading newspaper underscores the volatile politics of the November elections, which could drastically shift the political landscape.
The Times story did not include admissions from any endangered Democrats that party leaders had left them in the dark. Still, with Democratic prospects looking increasingly grim, the party will have to make tough decisions on how to allocate their resources in the final two months.
Republicans, who are enjoying a historic 10-point lead in Gallup’s generic congressional ballot, pounced on the Times story to call Democrats’ strategy “cold-hearted” and “proof positive that their majority is in play.”
“It’s obvious that Democrat leaders are beginning to wave the white flag as the political environment grows more toxic by the day, but throwing their own members to the wolves is as cold-hearted as it gets,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain, in a statement blasted out to reporters within an hour of Van Hollen’s response.
As of three hours after Van Hollen’s statement was released, the Times had not made any mention of it on the story’s Web page.