Cheri Bustos Wields Her Red To Blue List Like A Weapon Of Death Towards Progressive Candidates-- Take Indiana

IN-05 is an open seat. Rep. Susan Brooks-- a relatively mainstream conservative Republican-- is retiring. There are 15 Republicans running-- and 9 who have raised over the $5,000 that triggers an FEC report. The top-"raising" Republican, Victoria Spartz contributed $750,000 of her own money to her campaign, 98.7% of her funds. The second in the GOP money race is Beth Henderson and she self-financed to the tune of $154,600, about half of her campaign's budget. #4, Chuck Dietzen put in 120,000 of his own (44.5%) of his campaign's budget. That's how Republicans play; they all try to buy the election. Even way down the food chain, Matt Hook "raised" $36,872 (and spent $36,366), 81% from his own pocket.

Keeping in mind the district has an R+9 PVI, there are 4 serious Democratic candidates as well. Blue America has endorsed Jennifer Christie. But it's the kind of district (red-- Trump beat Hillary 53.1% to 41.3%) where the DCCC insists there be a corporate conservative Republican-lite candidate. So... not Jennifer.

Formerly, the DCCC would pretend to be neutral in primaries, especially open-seat races. Since Pelosi gave Blue Dog Cheri Bustos the chair, that policy has been discarded and the DCCC has become a full-time anti-progressive jihad and a recruiting machine for the Blue Dogs and New Dems. Her website's issues page looks more like a GOP page than a Democratic page. She uses Republican talking points, like favoring "access" to healthcare, rather than... healthcare. She's been careful to not include any positions that will offend Republicans. So, of course the DCCC endorsed her and added her to their Red-to-Blue page and have been telling institutional donors to give their contributions to her, not to the other Democrats in the race like Jennifer, the unabashed progressive, whose is running on a clear and cohesive agenda for working families-- like this:

At the end of January, Bustos made her move to help the conservative in the race. The Indy Star seemed to think it was marvelous: "For the first time since 2012, a Hoosier has made it on the inaugural list of candidates the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to throw its support behind. Christina Hale, a Democratic 5th Congressional District candidate, is one of 12 Congressional candidates across the U.S. who made it to the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program in the first round, which recognizes candidates who have a shot at flipping a Republican district. More candidates will likely be added later, but being among the first recognized is a positive sign for Hale's campaign. It could be helpful as she heads into the primary season against other Democrats. Her inclusion in the program will also enable her to access resources and fundraising support." Then the DCCC press release:

“A lifelong Hoosier, Christina Hale exemplifies the sacrifice, hustle and drive needed to deliver on behalf of Indiana families,” DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said in a statement. “Her reputation as a consensus builder in the Indiana State House means every bill she passed earned bipartisan support."

It's the latest sign of optimism from Democrats that the 5th district isn't reliably red anymore.

Republican Susan Brooks' decision to retire from Congress gave Republicans and Democrats alike the chance to seek the 5th District seat without having to run against an incumbent.

Republicans see the district-- which stretches from the northern portion of Indianapolis to the city of Marion and includes all of Hamilton County-- as an easy win since they've long controlled the seat.

But Democrats are hopeful they can capitalize on changing demographics in the suburban portion of the district, as Democrats elsewhere in the country have.

A year ago the DCCC put the district on its list of targeted districts in 2020.

Hale will likely face three candidates on the Democratic ballot in May: Dee Thornton and Jennifer Christie, who both ran in the 2018 Democrat primary for the 5th District, and Andy Jacobs, the son of former Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr.

Republicans face a much more crowded field, with potentially nine candidates on the May ballot. On the Republican side, both Kelly Mitchell and Chuck Dietzen are part of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s more extensive "On the Radar" candidate list.

Hale, who was John Gregg's running mate during his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, has long been a party favorite. The DCCC reached out to Hale about running, even as early as 2018.

Historically in Indiana being included in the "Red to Blue" program hasn't necessarily led to a victory in the general election.

Last year, 2nd District candidate Mel Hall and 9th District candidate Liz Watson were added to the list later on in the election cycle. Both lost their respective elections against Republican incumbents.

The last time a Hoosier made it on the inaugural list was 2nd District candidate Brendan Muellen in 2012. He also lost to a Republican.

Hopefully, this time, the DCCC corporatist shill won't even make it through the primary. Hale is trying her best to run an issue-free campaign, just like the DCCC urges their candidates to. At the candidates forums she bothers to participate in, she just pivots to her talking points or stump speech and tries avoiding answering questions directly. Recently she has been willing to say she is pro-choice, however and was endorsed by Planned Parenthood; one of her staff is on the board.

The Indy Star compared the positions on top issues of the 4 Democratic candidates in late March. One progressive-- and three mushy centrists. A Blue America member in Carmel near Indianapolis told us he has gotten flyers from Hale that he describes as just generic "horse-pucky" that full of poll-tested talking points. "She states her support for a 'public option' for Medicare and something "dizzyingly generic about climate change," but in the end "you know just one thing-- she's never going to be on the same side as an AOC or Pramila Jayapal. I don’t even think she would talk about climate change if Christie wasn't campaigning so hard on it... Hale did not show up to the Climate Forum which was bipartisan and hosted by CCL. I can tell you one thing for sure-- when she was a centrist state legislator, she accepted a lot of money from fossil fuel PACs and other Corp PACs. So that should give you an idea about what kind of member of Congress she would be."

Goal ThermometerI asked Jennifer about the DCCC endorsement for her status quo primary opponent and she just shrugged it off. "There are 5 names on the ballot," she said. "I am the only progressive, the only to support Medicare For All, a Green New Deal, and other important progressive causes. We have experienced staff and motivated volunteers. The DCCC has been helping our opponent since the beginning. We’ve seen them out knocking doors for her, phone-banking, and the DCCC has surely been an integral part of fundraising and steering PAC money to her campaign. Our opponent is running TV adds and blanketing  the district with mailers that have the usual political messaging. We take that as another sign that we are doing well, so we keep calling and writing voters because we know that the more people we talk with, the more votes we earn. We have vision, not talking points.  We are working for real change."

The DCCC ran a poll and their candidate did so badly that they didn't release the results, but Hale started spending a lot more money than she had planned to in the primary. Please consider helping Jennifer's campaign by clicking on the Blue America 2020 congressional thermometer above and contributing what you can.

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