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No caucus, no problem? Some freshman Democrats avoid ideological groups

Bridget Bowman, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Their political action committees often donate directly to campaigns, with a limit of $5,000 per election. In the 2018 cycle, the New Democrat Coalition Action Fund contributed nearly $1.3 million to other campaign committees.

Forty members of the Democratic freshman class joined the pro-business group. Its political arm connects members and candidates with potential supporters, helps build their campaign teams, and acts as an advocate with other potential allies.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which added 23 freshmen to its ranks this year, plans to ramp up its political operations for the 2020 cycle, and assist its members and candidates with fundraising, staffing and other campaign operations, according to David Keith, the group's first-ever political director. Its PAC contributed $322,000 to other committees in the 2018 cycle.

"We're going to absolutely help defend our members who need help," Keith said.

The Blue Dog PAC contributed $771,000 to other campaign committees last cycle. The group did not respond to a request for comment. Ten freshmen joined the coalition this year.

Finkenauer said she was not concerned about missing out on the political benefits these groups offer. She noted that her 1st District, which includes rural areas and the cities of Cedar Rapids and Dubuque, is a large one with diverse interests.


"My role is to represent Iowa. ... The D.C. talking points aren't what works in my state," she said.

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