Only One Freshman Has Paid All His DCCC Dues, and His Name Is Kennedy

Dishing cash is a time-honored tradition to rise up through the ranks. Rep. Joe Kennedy is following in his famous family’s footsteps.

Joe Kennedy III, candidate for the US House of Representatives, Massachusetts speaks to the audience at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012 on the first day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The DNC is expected to nominate US President Barack Obama to run for a second term as president. 
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
Shane Goldmacher
March 16, 2014, 8:01 a.m.

It’s the sea­son for ritu­al­ist­ic sham­ing of House Demo­crats, a time when the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee hands out a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice — as meas­ured by checks sent to the DCCC — to every mem­ber of the caucus.

And while the point of the ex­er­cise is to out those law­makers who are hoard­ing cam­paign cash for them­selves (Cough, cough: Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, who, des­pite serving as rank­ing mem­ber of House Ad­min­is­tra­tion, has giv­en noth­ing dir­ectly to the DCCC and raised zero dol­lars from oth­ers), it is also a cheat sheet for those who are try­ing to make moves polit­ic­ally.

Hand­ing out checks to col­leagues is a time-honored tra­di­tion of the polit­ic­ally am­bi­tious. And in this cat­egory, one name stands out: Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Mas­sachu­setts.

In the DCCC’s latest tally, Kennedy is the only fresh­man to have already reached his “dues goal” by send­ing $125,000 of his hard-earned cam­paign cash to the party com­mit­tee. Fur­ther, he blew past the sec­ond­ary goal of rais­ing $75,000 for the DCCC from oth­ers, bring­ing in a haul of $278,500 so far this cycle — nearly quad­ruple what has been asked of him.

It’s a sure sign that the 33-year old scion of one of Amer­ica’s best-known polit­ic­al fam­il­ies is plan­ning to fol­low in his re­l­at­ives’ fam­ous foot­steps. Kennedy has all the ad­vant­ages needed to climb the polit­ic­al lad­der, in­clud­ing his youth and a safe Mas­sachu­setts seat.

“Con­gress­man Kennedy is fo­cused on stand­ing up for his con­stitu­ents back home, build­ing re­la­tion­ships with his col­leagues, and pur­su­ing his le­gis­lat­ive pri­or­it­ies,” Kennedy spokes­wo­man Emily Browne said in an email.

Kennedy him­self de­clined an in­ter­view for this story.

The DCCC dues that mem­bers are asked to con­trib­ute rise on a slid­ing scale, with fresh­man ow­ing the least and more seni­or law­makers, those on more ex­clus­ive com­mit­tee, and those in lead­er­ship asked for more.

Still, Kennedy is in elite com­pany to have paid all his dues already. Oth­er names on the short list are the top House Demo­crat­ic lead­ers: Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoy­er, James Cly­burn, Xavi­er Be­cerra, and Steve Is­rael. Buzzfeed first pos­ted the latest DCCC dues sheet. Na­tion­al Journ­al also ob­tained a copy.

The only oth­ers, out­side of Pelosi’s of­fi­cial lead­er­ship team, are Chris Van Hol­len, the top Demo­crat on the Budget Com­mit­tee and a rising star viewed as a speak­er­ship con­tender; Henry Cuel­lar of Texas, who sits on the Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee; and Anna Eshoo of Cali­for­nia and Frank Pal­lone of New Jer­sey. The lat­ter two are locked in a fierce fight to be the top Demo­crat on the power­ful En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee in 2015.

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