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Liberal group to monitor Hill Democrats

From NBC's Mark Murray
Congressional Democrats don't have to worry only about re-election challenges from the right. If a new group supported by prominent liberals has its way, some Democrats will have to pay extra attention to challenges from their left flank.

Liberal groups like MoveOn, SEIU, Democracy for America, and DailyKos are supporting Accountability Now PAC, a grassroots organization launched yesterday that will target what it sees as Democrats who have ethics problems or who are out of touch with their constituents on key issues. Its goal is to have about $1 million at its disposal to recruit and help potential primary challengers.

There isn't an actual target list -- although supporters cite Democrats like Sen. Joe Lieberman, ex-Rep. Al Wynn (whom current Rep. Donna Edwards defeated in 2008), and ex-Rep. William Jefferson (who lost his congressional seat to a Republican) as examples of past transgressors.

The idea behind Accountability Now is that primaries and primary competition are healthy; in fact, the organization's executive director, Jeff Hauser, compares them to a job-performance review.

But Accountability Now stresses that it isn't analogous to the conservative Club for Growth, which has been criticized for targeting moderate Republicans who represent moderate-leaning districts and states. It has no interest in trying to challenge, say, a Democratic member from Idaho. Rather, it wants to make sure Democratic congressmen aren't out of touch with their constituents.

"We are not pushing people to the left," said Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos, which is supporting Accountability Now. "We want a responsive party and a responsive government."

Moulitsas adds that the group's goal isn't always to challenge incumbent Democrats in primaries. Instead, it would be more than pleased to change their voting records and behavior.

"No one wants to be the next Lieberman, right?"