A new mailer sent by the Democratic Party’s House campaign arm directly ties some of the party’s most vulnerable members to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, creating the potential for political potholes for those members down the road.
The mailer, which was obtained by The Daily Beast, pleads with donors to contribute to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to help support so called “Frontliner” members who hail from key swing districts.
“House Democrats are courageously standing up for our democracy, our national security, and the Constitution by launching an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump,” reads the mailer. "As I write to you, every single member of the leadership and a majority of the House have stepped forward for our nation. The courage of these leaders and of our newly elected Frontliners should be an inspiration to all of us. We cannot let them down.”
As far as fundraising solicitations go, the DCCC mailer is not particularly provocative. Indeed, dozens of congressional Democrats have sent similar fundraising appeals based on the impeachment inquiry since Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it official on Sept. 24.
But in trying to gin up donations off of the impeachment proceedings, the campaign committee has taken a notable gamble. The frontline members in the party are precisely the ones most publicly skittish about pursuing Trump’s impeachment—arguing, often, that it is a solemn responsibility or even a grave step that is fraught with political risk. That message could be complicated by the fact that the House Democratic campaign arm is now raising money explicitly for them and explicitly off of impeachment.
"The survival of our democracy may literally depend on what we do here,” the fundraising solicitation reads. “Please rush your contribution to the DCCC today."
The DCCC’s plea, sent directly to potential donors inside a letter that announces “ACTION NEEDED,” reflects a notable shift in how party leadership has approached impeachment. For months, Pelosi and DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos (D-IL) let it be known that they thought pursuit of impeachment was a massive political risk for the party, specifically endangering the gains that Democrats had made with more moderate voters.
But polls have shifted in the Democrats’ favor since the impeachment inquiry began.
A spokesperson for the DCCC said that “Democrats won back the House because the American people knew they’d work to bring down the cost of health care, fight to invest in the future of America’s economy, and take on corruption in Washington. That includes ensuring no one–not even the Presidentis above the law.”
Even DCCC data has suggested that the issue of impeachment is now a toss-up among the public.
Whether that data is the same in swing districts is not entirely clear. But what’s notable is that of the many Democrats who have sent impeachment-based fundraising appeals since the inquiry began, several were Frontliners who did not favor impeachment until the anonymous whistleblower’s account of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president became public.
Rep. Colin Allred–a Texas Democrat and impeachment holdout who flipped a longtime GOP seat in 2018–sent a fundraising email on Sept. 30: “The President of the United States may think he is above the law–but Colin Allred is holding him accountable!”
Others have leaned on attacks from the DCCC’s rival, the National Republican Congressional Committee. “The NRCC is attacking Mikie for calling on Congress to use all of the tools at its disposal–including impeachment hearings–to determine whether President Trump pressured Ukraine to interfere in our elections,” said a Sept. 25 fundraising appeal from Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), another district-flipping freshman.
Democratic fundraising professionals say that the impeachment push—and the Trump conduct at the heart of it—have inspired the party base in a rare way.
According to Greg Berlin, founder and partner at Mothership Strategies, a Democratic digital fundraising firm, the first weeks of the impeachment inquiry and the Ukraine story have been one of the most significant non-electoral fundraising and activism moments among Democrats since the president fired former FBI Director James Comey in 2017.
“This was so brazen, so out in the open, so obvious, that it really allowed the donors and activists to grab onto it,” he said. “We haven’t seen something with this kind of staying power in a very, very long time.”
Indeed, Pelosi’s impeachment announcement—which came at the end of the third fundraising quarter of 2019—helped to fuel a strong fundraising quarter for the DCCC. It raised $27.4 million in Q3—with nearly half of that total coming in the month of September—which the committee says is its strongest third quarter ever in a non-election year. House Democrats head into the final months of 2019 with three times more cash on hand—$36 million—than their GOP counterpart.