House moderates are training their ire at a trio of liberal House Democratic chairmen from safe districts who are collectively sitting on more than $8 million in campaign cash.
The three Democrats — Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (Calif.), Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Ed Markey (Mass.) and Subcommittee on Health Chairman Frank Pallone (N.J.) — were also the main authors of the House’s cap-and-trade energy bill and health care reform package that many moderates see as the chief causes of this year’s expected Republican wave.
One senior Democratic aide even dubbed them the “three horsemen of the apocalypse” for their role, calling them “clueless” about the political effects of their “ivory tower” energy and health care bills. Neither of the original House versions of those bills became law; Senators never took up a cap-and-trade package this cycle, and House Democrats had to make concessions to enact a more moderate health care reform measure.
Moderates “all got BTU’d on the public plan and cap-and-trade. ... And now they are holding on to their money for some future Senate race or future redistricting fight,” the aide said.
The frustration has some moderates talking behind the scenes about challenges to the three Members’ chairmanships — assuming Democrats retain control of the chamber — although some acknowledged such talk is probably wishful thinking.
While Waxman, Markey and Pallone have met or exceeded their Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dues, according to the Oct. 19 dues sheet obtained by Roll Call, aides to several vulnerable Members say the trio bear a greater responsibility for the party’s electoral predicament than any other Members. Those Democrats, moderates say, have no good reason to hold on to millions of dollars that could help preserve the majority.
Waxman has the least amount in the bank — almost $1.4 million — and has given $575,000 to the DCCC, $75,000 more than his dues. But he’s still only about halfway toward a separate goal of raising $1 million for the DCCC.
David Sadkin, Waxman’s finance director, defended his aid to Democrats this cycle. “Mr. Waxman contributed to Democratic members and candidates across the political spectrum,” he said.
Markey has given $350,000 to the DCCC over the two-year period, $100,000 more than his dues, and separately he has raised more than $1.7 million for the DCCC. A Markey campaign aide defended his giving, saying he had raised more money for the DCCC and Democratic candidates than anybody outside of leadership, including full committee chairmen.
“In this era where secret organizations can just come in and dump unlimited amounts of money in any district at any time, it would just be foolish to empty out his campaign account,” the Markey aide said. “To say that Ed hasn’t been supportive of the DCCC and hasn’t been supportive of other candidates is just absurd.”
But Markey’s healthy campaign kitty of $3.4 million has nonetheless raised eyebrows. Markey has flirted with a run for the Senate, and Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) is up for re-election in 2012.
A Democratic leadership aide pointed to Markey, who championed the cap-and-trade measure, as a prime example of someone who isn’t taking enough of a leadership role in a difficult election year.