A website rolled out Monday by the National Republican Congressional Committee is pushing for donations to boost the primary challenges of two Democrats seeking to oust Democratic U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette of Denver and Ed Perlmutter of Arvada.
The website, known as the "Socialist Showdown," links to donation pages for 11 Democratic candidates running for Congress, many against other Democrats. The website's homepage is primarily directed against "the Squad," the four Congressional Democratic women of color whom President Donald Trump blasted with tweets on July 12 that told them to "go back" where they came from.
The tweets presumably targeted U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. Three of the four were born in the United States, and the fourth, Omar, has been a U.S. citizen since 2000.
Among the challengers that the NRCC website links to: former Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran of Denver, who's running against DeGette in a 2020 primary, and Nathan Clay of Adams County, who's running against Perlmutter. Both are Democrats.
The NRCC website links directly to the campaign and/or fundraising websites for Duran and Clay, so there's no way to know when donations to those candidates might route through the NRCC website. Duran told Colorado Politics Friday that it's "unfortunate that the incumbent is desperately spreading Trump’s propaganda to promote their hurtful agenda. I’m running because she is absent, out of touch and these latest actions are further evidence that our community deserves better. The people of CD 1 deserve a bold leader who will fight for all communities, not someone who promotes Trump’s dirty tactics and harmful agenda."
DeGette has already taken notice of the NRCC's interest. She sent out a fundraising email this week that said "Republicans are intruding in our race in order to keep Diana from fighting for everyday Coloradans, and are supporting our opponent."
Perlmutter's campaign declined to comment.
No Republicans have filed yet to run in either the 7th Congressional District or the 1st Congressional District. A third Democrat, Charlie Madison Winters of Denver, also filed to run last March but lists no campaign contributions to date.
Clay, who's challenging Perlmutter, is a recent transplant to Colorado. He registered to vote in Colorado on March 7, 2017, and filed his candidacy for the 7th Congressional district seat with the Federal Election commission on April 14, 2017.
But Clay's past is not as a Democrat. He ran for Congress in 2016 in Missouri's 7th Congressional District and was then known as Nathan Clay Bradham. He was one of eight Republican candidates running in the 2016 primary, and came in eighth, with less than 1% of the vote.
His website for the 2020 campaign explains that he was a "Bernie Sanders Republican" in the 2016 race. What's changed between then and now: nothing, his website says. "Nothing has changed about my platform, ideas, or politics over the last three years — the only difference is where I live."
"Bernie Sanders inspired me to run for office, but I was living in a deep red state with institutionalized favoritism for Republican candidates built into every step of the political process at the time, so I ran as a Bernie-Sanders-endorsing, ultra-progressive Republican so I could actually have the opportunity to have my voice heard," he states on the website.
"... I understand how this strategy [in 2020] could initially come off as opportunistic or potentially disingenuous, but I would only see it that way if my platform, ideas, views and goals changed to whatever was needed at the time and place to win an election. That is definitely not the case at all. I simply ran as a progressive Republican in a state where the entire political process is designed to favor Republicans."
Clay's FEC filings showed no contributions for his 2016 run and none so far in 2019. Perlmutter has raised $367,721 so far this year; his cash on hand is $872,813.
Duran raised $80,120 in the 2nd quarter of 2019 that ended on June 30, far below DeGette's $207,219. That's only slightly better for Duran than her 1st quarter haul of $70,703. DeGette raised $138,540 in that same time period.
Clay said he is aware of the NRCC website." I thought it was a very ineffective form of attacking the party and the progressive movement," he told Colorado Politics Friday. "They're trying to stoke turmoil in the ranks" of the party and the clash between party progressives and the more established wing. "What they don't understand and what they're getting wrong, is that this turmoil will make the party weaker," Clay explained. "My perspective is that the progressives are slowing turning the Democratic Party into the only things that the American people want. This will hilariously backfire. Once voters really experiencing what progressives are fighting for, they'll never vote for Republicans again."
Political pundit Eric Sondermann said he viewed the NRCC's efforts a "mischief by bottom feeders. It's transparent in its non-transparency," he said Friday, "as an effort to sow further dissension in the Democratic ranks."
But it certainly won't make the 1st Congressional District any more Republican, he said, and as for the 7th Congressional District, the NRCC appears "to have found someone from obscurity who will soon return to obscurity."