Non-Supporter of Pelosi Benefits From Her Fundraising

Non-Supporter of Pelosi Benefits From Her Fundraising
Tim Vizer/Belleville News-Democrat via AP
Non-Supporter of Pelosi Benefits From Her Fundraising
Tim Vizer/Belleville News-Democrat via AP
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A House candidate who doesn’t support Nancy Pelosi as his party’s leader is one of the beneficiaries of a Washington fundraiser Wednesday night featuring Pelosi and top Illinois Democrats, according to an invitation obtained by RealClearPolitics.

Brendan Kelly, who is running against Rep. Mike Bost in Illinois’ 12th District, has said he wouldn’t vote for Pelosi as leader. He and three other Illinois House candidates in competitive races are the beneficiaries of a fundraiser featuring Pelosi, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan, and Democratic members of Illinois’ congressional delegation, including Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, according to the invitation.

Kelly, in a statement to RCP, stood by his position on Pelosi and said the invitation came from the Illinois delegation.

"I’ve been clear, we need new leadership in Washington in both parties,” Kelly said. “Some folks may agree with my position, some may not. I’m glad to have the Illinois delegation’s help in fighting for Southern Illinois and I appreciate them inviting me."

In an interview with RealClearPolitics last month, Kelly didn’t criticize Pelosi but said his position is about “new leadership across the board.”

“That’s not directed at just one person,” Kelly said. “I think the leadership in both parties has not served this part of the country well, and so because of this deep, deep division we just need a fresh start.”

Kelly is one of multiple Democratic candidates who have said they wouldn’t support Pelosi as leader, and Republicans have previously criticized those candidates for benefiting from her fundraising.

“Nothing says phony like telling voters you don’t support Nancy Pelosi as your party’s leader only to personally benefit from a fundraiser she’s hosting in DC,” Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for Republicans’ House campaign committee, said in a statement. “This charade where House Democratic candidates bash Pelosi in public, while at the same time benefit from her financial network, won’t hold up under scrutiny this fall.”

Kelly, a state’s attorney and former U.S. Navy officer, is considered one of Democrats’ top recruits this cycle and has received significant support from Democrats’ campaign committee. He’s included in their “Red to Blue” program for top candidates, and Lujan, the DCCC chairman, has campaigned for him in Illinois. Kelly is one of dozens of Democrats who have outraised Republican incumbents so far this year.

None of the other candidates at the fundraiser have said they would not back Pelosi as leader. Sean Casten, a candidate in a targeted suburban Chicago district, would not commit to voting for Pelosi, but would not rule it out either, according to ABC News. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, the Democratic candidate in the 13th District, was noncommittal, telling a local newspaper she would take her cue from voters. The campaign of Lauren Underwood, the fourth Democrat on the invitation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Pelosi declined to comment.

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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