Political Party/527

The National Committee for an Effective Congress

Website:

www.ncec.org

Location:

Washington, DC

Formation:

1948

The National Committee for an Effective Congress is a left-of-center electoral advocacy group created by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on September 23, 1948 to support progressive candidates. In recent times, the organization has moved away from directly funding candidates’ campaigns to provide analysis and research for candidates to use. [1]

NCEC literature has used rhetoric to portray conservatives as “radical right,” “reactionary,” and “obstructionist,” while calling liberal candidates “progressive,” “forward-looking,” and “courageous.” [2]

Prominent historical Republicans, namely former Sens. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, and Bob Dole (R-KS), the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, warned the organization was very effective and that the GOP should adopt its tactics. [3]

Founding

National Committee for an Effective Congress is a left-of-center electoral advocacy group created by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on September 23, 1948 to support left-progressive candidates for the U.S. Congress. Roosevelt was joined by Maurice Rosenblatt, a former Wisconsin newspaperman, and then-U.S. Sen. Harley M. Kilgore (D-WV) to establish the organization. They got the idea after Sen. James E. Murray (D-MT) visited New York to raise campaign money to run against a well-financed opponent supported by the Anaconda Copper Company. [4]

The former president’s son, James Roosevelt, became the first chairman of the organization.

Ballot Achievements

After its inaugural election in 1948 election, six winning Democratic Senators, one who would become a vice presidential nominee and another who would become vice president, wrote letter stating, “We are personally grateful for the splendid assistance ‘(in) our campaign efforts … It is of the utmost importance that the Committee be continued … To win elections is but the beginning of the important job of developing and passing progressive legislation for our people.” The senators were Paul H. Douglas of Illinois; Guy M. Gillette of Iowa; Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota, who was elected vice president in 1968; Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, who was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1952; James E. Murray of Montana; and Matthew M. Neely of West Virginia. [5]

The NECC encouraged Minnesota U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy to challenge President Lyndon B. Johnson for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination. When McCarthy overperformed in New Hampshire, Johnson decided not to seek re-election. [6]

During 1974, when Democrats made historic gains in Congress amid the Watergate scandal’s fallout, the NCEC took credit for having 100 percent of its primary candidates win and 71 percent of its general election candidates win. The NCEC also claimed it “made the difference in toppling the seniority system and reforming the House rules,” key goals of left-progressives at the time. [7]

The organization provides campaign data and analysis and planning tools for leftwing candidates to plot campaign strategies. The NCEC’s Democratic Performance Index (DPI) was used by campaigns to build paths and goals, based on data of actual candidate performance and what worked going back to the 1980s. [8]

The group has claimed to be nonpartisan. While the organization has traditionally backed Democrats, it points to several Republican candidates it has supported over the decades such as George Marshall’s campaign against Democratic Sen. Pat McCarran of Nevada and GOP Sens. Ralph E. Flanders of Vermont, John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, and Frederick G. Payne of Maine. [9]

Data Work

It was in the 1970s that the organization began to develop advanced data sorting for maximizing resources. [10] Liberal groups have used the data from the NCEC for voter targeting and redistricting. [11]

The NCEC greatly increased its use of district level data for Democratic redistricting efforts after the 2000 and 2010 Census. [12]

The organization backed 35 Democratic congressional candidates in 2016, focusing on top-tier marginal districts. Five of the seven Democrats that beat Republican incumbents that year used NCEC data, according to the group. The organization provides the data to Democratic candidates at no cost. [13]

Joe McCarthy

During the 1950s, the young organization targeted extremist anti-Communist U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), as co-founder Rosenblatt set up the “McCarthy Clearing House,” providing members of Congress information to counter McCarthy’s mostly unsubstantiated allegations of Communist infiltration. The Clearing House assembled thousands of documents such as transcripts of speeches, legal analysis, depositions and press clipping aimed at undermining McCarthy. The NCEC help draft the censure document that Sen. Ralph Flanders (R-VT) read in the Senate denouncing McCarthy. [14]

Flanders said of the resolution, “The NCEC masterminded the censure of Joe McCarthy.” [15]

Advocacy

The organization pushed various campaign finance reform laws starting in the late 1960s. It wrote the Campaign Broadcast Reform Act that passed Congress in 1969 but was vetoed by President Richard Nixon. But it came back to get the Federal Election Campaign Act passed in 1971, which established the Federal Election Commission that monitors campaign contributions. [16]

The organization also back various left-of-center issues. These include “freedom of choice,” a euphemism for abortion rights; aggressive separation of church and state; gun control; and environmentalist regulation. [17]

The organization worked with Ralph Nader’s Congress Project and lobbied to cut off funding for the military involvement in the Vietnam War. [18]

References

  1. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  2. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020.  https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  3. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  4. “About US.” NCEC. Accessed February 22, 2020. http://www.ncec.org/about/ ^
  5. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  6. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  7. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020.  https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  8. “About US.” NCEC. Accessed February 22, 2020. http://www.ncec.org/about/ ^
  9. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  10. Martin, Douglas. “Russell Hemenway, Champion of Reformist Politics, Dies at 88.” February 5, 2014. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/us/politics/russell-hemenway-dies-at-88-devised-strategies-to-aid-liberal-causes.html ^
  11. Walker, Scott. “How Democrats Try to Hijack Elections.” The Washington Times. July 11, 2019. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jul/11/how-democrats-try-to-hijack-elections/ ^
  12. Lieb, David and Robertson, Gary. “Records Reveal Concerns of Deceased GOP Redistricting Expert.” Associated Press. January 20, 2020. Accessed February 22, 2020.  https://www.whsv.com/content/news/Records-reveal-concerns-of-deceased-GOP-redistricting-expert-567138781.html ^
  13. “About US.” NCEC. Accessed February 22, 2020. http://www.ncec.org/about/ ^
  14. “Fighting McCarthyism.” NCEC. Accessed February 22, 2020. http://www.ncec.org/our-history/#fighting_mccarthyism ^
  15. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
  16. “Campaign Finance Reform.” NCEC. Accessed February 22, 2020. http://www.ncec.org/our-history/#campaign_finance_reform ^
  17. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” Vote Smart. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://votesmart.org/interest-group/240/national-committee-for-an-effective-congress#.XlFvim5FzIV ^
  18. Poole, William. “National Committee for an Effective Congress.” The Heritage Foundation. April 19, 1978. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-national-committee-effective-congress ^
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The National Committee for an Effective Congress

218 D Street SE, Floor 3
Washington, DC 20003