Michael Stravato/The Washington Post(HOUSTON) — Texas congressional candidate Laura Moser said she was shocked when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — which tends to reserve its attacks for Republican candidates — released negative research about her recently.
“If I was a comic book character, I think my mouth would’ve hit the floor,” she said.
The DCCC prides itself on supporting Democrats seeking seats in the House of Representatives, but on Thursday, the group surprisingly took aim at Moser, a former journalist and congressional candidate from its own party who is running in the 7th Congressional District in Texas.
In the organization’s website post, Moser was described as a “Washington insider who begrudgingly moved to Houston to run for Congress.”
The organization also cited an article in which she reportedly stated she would rather have her teeth pulled out without anesthesia than live in Texas, a comment Moser said was taken out of context.
“It’s something we would expect from the other side, but not our own party,” Moser said. Her message to the committee: “Get your priorities straight.”
In response, DCCC Communications Director Meredith Kelly said in a statement to ABC News that Moser’s “disgust for life in Texas” disqualifies her from running.
“Voters in Houston have organized for over a year to hold Representative Culberson accountable and win this Clinton district,” the statement said, referring to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s winning the district by a small margin over Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. “Unfortunately, Laura Moser’s outright disgust for life in Texas disqualifies her as a general election candidate, and would rob voters of their opportunity to flip Texas’ 7th in November.”
The DCCC’s move draws attention to possible tension within the Democratic Party in a highly competitive race.
Democrats have had their eyes set on the 7th Congressional District in Texas.
The Houston-area district has been held by a Republican for the past 50 years. Clinton won the district in the 2016 election by a small margin, but it was enough to trigger a major push to flip the long-standing red district blue.
Several Democrats are fighting for the chance to challenge incumbent GOP Rep. John Culberson, who has held the seat since 2001.
For a Democrat to win this district, it will require moderate Republicans to vote against their party, Rice University political science professor Robert Stein said.
Some in the Democratic Party may believe Moser is too liberal, he said.
“The Democrats believe it’s important to have a candidate who can attract moderate Republicans to cross over, and that’s not something Laura Moser can do,” Stein said.
Moser disagrees and rejects the notion that she is too liberal to win over Republican voters. She believes her Democratic opponents fall into two categories: right of center and left of center.
“They think the only candidates who can win are kind of Republican-like candidates,” she said of the DCCC, adding, “I’m attracting Republican voters not because I’m trying to be a Republican, but because I’m a straight talker.”
As for the state of the Democratic Party, Moser said that in light of the DCCC’s comments, she is worried about her party’s chances of flipping the House.
“Since this is the first primary in the country, maybe I’m the test case,” she said.
Moser said she believes the committee needs to let the voters decide who is fit to represent them. “It worries me that they would be interfering so dramatically and viciously and personally. … They say they want more women to run for office — and this is what you do.”
Voter turnout among women in this district is key.
Women make up 51 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The only woman to win the district is Hillary Clinton. Moser is one of two women running in the district.
The other, lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, is endorsed by Emily’s List, a group that helps women seeking public office. Stein believes the idea of two women in a runoff may have also gotten the DCCC worried.
Alternatively, Moser believes the comments made by the DCCC could result in neither of the women going into a runoff.
Her campaign has been picking up speed. She has raised nearly $150,000 in the first quarter of 2018 and is set to host a voter event with actress and activist Alyssa Milano this weekend.
Moser was part of the resistance movement following President Donald Trump’s election and created Daily Action, a civic engagement tool that drew in a quarter of a million subscribers.
Democracy for America, which has been a strong supporter of Moser’s campaign, released a statement supporting the candidate.
“Laura Moser is a fifth-generation Houstonian building a genuine grassroots campaign in her home community, and while that might not get the Republican-lite cheerleaders at the DCCC their sweet consulting gigs after this cycle, it’s exactly the kind of campaign we need to win this critical race and retake the House in November,” said Annie Weinberg, electoral director of Democracy for America.
Although Moser said she is “disappointed” in her party, she plans to keep moving forward. Early voting in the Houston-area district started this week and ends March 2.
Election Day for Democratic and Republican primaries is March 6. It is the first primary in the nation.
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