The Corner

Democrats Target Wealthy Suburbs: GOP Silent on AFFH

Today’s New York Times features a front page above the fold piece on the Democrats’ plan to take the House by targeting affluent suburbs. Trump is so disliked among college-educated voters—particularly women—that many typically Republican suburban congressional districts are now up for grabs. Republicans are considering countering by running ads that actually predict a Trump loss and then call on voters to support a Republican House as a check on Hillary Clinton. Ads attacking Nancy Pelosi are also under consideration.

Affluent suburbs are being targeted by Democrats alright, targeted for a de facto annexation by nearby cities that will end local control of zoning, education, and transportation, targeted for the kind of dense downtown development that made suburbanites move out of cities to begin with. The Republican House is indeed the only real check on President Obama’s transformative new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation. House Republicans have voted multiple times to defund the regulation, with Democrats in essentially unanimous support of the most sweeping attack on the suburbs in this country’s history.

Yet Republicans have consistently refused to make AFFH an issue. Worse, the GOP establishment is actually working to unseat Congressman Paul Gosar in tomorrow’s Arizona Primary. Gosar has repeatedly and courageously led the House opposition to AFFH. Gosar is a hero who deserves re-election and full GOP support. Instead the party is madly running from his signature issue at the very moment when it could save them.

Hillary Clinton is desperate to avoid AFFH as a campaign issue, ducking repeated requests for comments on HUD’s AFFH attack on her hometown. She knows that AFFH has the potential to split the Democratic coalition in two. It’s actually the Democrats who should be running scared in the suburbs. Democratic suburbs like Westchester County in New York (where Hillary lives) are directly in the firing line of AFFH. Westchester’s local leadership flipped from Democrat to Republican in response to overreach on housing policy from Obama’s HUD. Philadelphia is due to make one of the first major reports under the new AFFH rule, and the crucial swing suburbs around the city should be very worried. They’ll get their own turn under AFFH soon enough, but the Obama administration has back-loaded much of the new HUD grant application process to avoid controversy before the election. It’s the same strategy of delay they used with Obamacare.

A smart Republican party would expose all this, save itself, and split the Democrats. But that’s not the party we’ve got.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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