Weaver’s bad standing with the Bush White House is rooted in the stunning run he is credited with engineering for McCain in the 2000 presidential primary, especially his sweeping victory over Bush in New Hampshire. Weaver’s forte is in drawing traditionally non-Republican voters to his candidates, particularly in states with open primaries, where uncommitteds can easily cast a vote either way.
After the 2000 election, senior White House adviser Rove made a point of telling several Republican senators that it would not make the White House happy to see Weaver working for them. One of these senators, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, has confirmed such conversations took place.
Weaver walked out on the Republican Party in a huff. He worked gratis with House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt to get passage of the campaign finance reform package in March. Now he has signed on as the lead consultant for the House Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “He’s going to crack the code,” says on senior staffer on DCCC. “He knows how Republicans think, he knows how they work, and he’s been with them so recently he probably has a sense of what they are planning for 2002 and beyond campaign-wise.”
Helpful as he may be the DCCC, the bigger issue is what Weaver may yet do for Democrats in the Senate. Because while Republicans didn’t want Weaver, Democrats did, namely New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who is running for the U.S. Senate. The seat is currently held by Sen. Bob Smith, who is being challenged in the Republican primary by Rep. John Sununu.
“If Shaheen wins that seat, we win the Senate,” says a Democratic leadership aide. “It’s that simple. If Weaver gives us that, then he’s a hero for the cause. He won that state for McCain, he should win it for us. Republicans should be really pissed at Rove for cutting off this particular nose.”
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