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An Inside Look at the DCCC Research Department

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
The DCCC, led by Chairman Steve Israel, has grown the research department significantly since the unit was brought mostly in house in 2005.

Ironically, some of the most obvious and ethically challenged targets don’t have books. Why, DCCC officials argue, should they waste time and resources if the candidates’ scandals are on the front page of their local newspaper every week?

Then there are the unfinished tomes. The DCCC gambles on the wrong candidate to win the primary, a contender drops out, or a Member retires.

In the 2008 cycle, the DCCC finished an exhaustive 1,200 pages for 10-term Rep. Jim Walsh’s (R-N.Y.) book. He retired the next day.

They call them dead books, and so far there are a couple this year — including Johnson. The Republican suddenly dropped out one month after the primary — and a few weeks after the DCCC sent Pullum to Springfield to finish his 543-page book.

Occasionally, Pullum still sees his quirky research subject around Capitol Hill. Johnson doesn’t know the 24-year-old from any other young staffer, but Pullum describes his reaction as giddy.

“I have this real desire to be like, ‘How’s it going, buddy? Let’s talk about your diet,’” Pullum said. “It’s all these bizarre things that you know.”

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