The Washington, DC-based Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) works “to elect bold progressive candidates to federal office and to help [them] and their campaigns save money, work smarter, and win more often.” Focused especially on minimizing the “mistakes and inefficiencies” in the campaigns of “inexperienced candidates,” PCCC views itself as a complement to the Progressive Majority, which provides support to leftist candidates running on the state and local, rather than the federal, levels. Seeking ultimately to move the Democratic Party further to the left politically, PCCC’s priority is to identify and assist progressive, rather than conservative or moderate, Democratic candidates. In fact, PCCC does not entirely rule out the possibility that it may someday work to unseat conservative Democrats.
PCCC was founded in January 2009 by a group of leftwing operatives from MoveOn.org and labor circles. PCCC co-founder Adam Green, who formerly served as MoveOn’s Director of Strategic Campaigns, strives to help first-time candidates recruit good campaign staffers and make more effective use of the Internet. By so doing, Green explains, candidates can save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant fees.
Another PCCC co-founder, Aaron Swartz, helped to invent the RSS (Rich Site Summary) technology that revolutionized the way people consume information online. Other key players involved in PCCC’s establishment were staffers from the 2008 congressional campaigns of Darcy Burner (D-Washington), and Tom Perriello (D-Virginia). One of the more notable Perriello staffers who helped launch PCCC was Stephanie Taylor, a former union organizer with more than a decade of field and online experience at the Service Employees International Union, the AFL-CIO, the Democratic National Committee, and MoveOn.org.
During the debate over healthcare reform in 2009, PCCC joined forces with Democracy for America to produce a series of television advertisements calling for the inclusion of a “public option” in any new legislation; i.e., a government-run health-insurance plan, like Medicare, that would compete alongside private insurers in a new Health Insurance Exchange. Asserting that private insurance companies typically “profit by denying coverage” to people in need, these ads sought to persuade left-leaning lawmakers not to sign any reform bill that did not include a public option. Among the senators targeted were Max Baucus (D-Montana), Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Bernie Sanders (I-Massachusetts), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).
PCCC also circulated a petition addressed to President Barack Obama, which said: “President Obama, please demand a strong public health insurance option in your speech to Congress. Letting the insurance companies win would not be change we can believe in.” To raise money for the promotion of a public option via various media outlets, PCCC set up a donations page on the ActBlue website. This page showed the amount that had been donated thus far, and how additional contributions could help advance the cause further: “$20,000 can make a splash in a DC publication, $40,000 could buy cable news in DC, $100,000 could buy a New York Times ad.”
Also in 2009, PCCC and Democracy for America collaborated to conduct a series of state-by-state surveys suggesting that Democratic candidates who failed to support a public option were likely to face a backlash from voters in the upcoming 2010 elections. In reality, however, the American people overwhelmingly opposed any sort of public option. Moreover, many candidates who supported healthcare reform ultimately paid a heavy political price, as the Democratic Party lost more than 60 House seats in the 2010 midterm elections. (Ascribing the Democrats’ heavy losses to “Blue Dog weakness and watered-down change,” PCCC, in the wake of the Republican triumph, asserted that “it’s time for progressives to teach Democrats how to fight!”)
In 2009, PCCC aired a television ad denouncing radio commentator Rush Limbaugh for his criticisms of the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. The ad said that Limbaugh’s remarks — characterizing Sotomayor as “an angry woman,” “a bigot,” and “a racist” — were “an insult to all Latin Americans.”
In 2010, PCCC worked hard to help re-elect Progressive Caucus Chair Raul Grijalva , who ultimately defeated Republican challenger Ruth McClung in a close race. That same year, PCCC ran a series of online advertisements urging President Obama “not to back down” from his campaign pledge to allow the Bush-era tax cuts for high earners to expire. One ad showed footage of Obama campaigning in Iowa back in 2007, saying: “We will also allow the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.”
In an effort to cultivate a new crop of young leftists to spearhead future progressive endeavors, PCCC has initiated a program called “The Next Generation of Talent,” which connects “skilled progressives” with political “campaigns that need help.”