September 16, 2021

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Democrats Pick Campaign Chief for Uphill Bid to Protect House Majority

Ready to go on the offensive, Republicans already re-elected their campaign chairman, Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, to lead the charge to retake the majority. His searing campaign attack strategy this year, portraying vulnerable Democrats as socialist sympathizers who want to defund police forces, clearly rattled Democrats and pleased the rank and file in his own party.

Mr. Maloney will quickly come under pressure to find a way to counter that messaging. So far, the party’s two wings have spent more time squabbling with each other over who is to blame for the caricatures than trying to change public perceptions. And some progressives remain skeptical of Mr. Maloney, worrying that he may be too similar to Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the committee’s current chairwoman. Ms. Bustos resigned last month after Democrats’ disappointing showing in House races, in which they failed to unseat a single Republican and saw at least a dozen of their incumbents defeated. She also hails from a swing district and is a middle-aged white person in an increasingly diverse party.

Making matters more complicated are looming changes atop House leadership. Ms. Pelosi has led Democrats in the chamber for nearly two decades, tightly controlling the party’s legislative and campaign strategies and raising huge amounts of money for candidates — attributes her successors will have a difficult time replicating.

“I expect our opponents to throw the kitchen sink at us and I expect the party I’m from to do what’s right, which is stand up for racial justice,” Mr. Maloney said. “We should be prepared to fight for those things in a way that is smart and benefits from the hard experience of the recent election.”

As he sought to sway fellow Democrats, Mr. Cárdenas highlighted the political operation he built over a six-year run leading BOLD Pac, the campaign arm of the Hispanic Caucus. The group raised $30 million under his chairmanship, funneling money not just to Latino candidates but also other Democrats running difficult races.

Mr. Maloney rejected concerns that attempts to win back Latinos would suffer under his watch. In the interview, he indicated that he planned to elevate prominent Latino lawmakers at the campaign committee to help improve outreach, potentially including two of his leading supporters for the post, Representatives Linda T. Sánchez of California and Veronica Escobar of Texas.

“I share Tony’s concern that we improve our cultural competency across the many Latino communities where we need to do better,” Mr. Maloney said.

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