Washington Prowler

Coakley’s Titanic Ride

Democrats have run out of lifeboats.

By 1.19.10

When New York-23 House candidate Doug Hoffman surged in the polls, to knock pseudo Republican Dede Scozzafava out of the race, the White House and the Democratic National Committee asked AFL-CIO and SEIU officials to carpet bomb the upstate New York district in get out the vote efforts on behalf of their candidate, and the eventual winner of the race, Bill Owens.

Labor did its job in New York, and last week, the White House -- Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod -- and the DNC made a similar request to their labor friends on behalf of Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley.

"We really don't have any other formula to fall back on," says a DNC political consultant. "There is no grassroots enthusiasm for Coakley up there, but we have to create the appearance of making the effort. Labor is all we have. For a period now, we're just going to have take our lumps for the sins of our leadership."

Enthusiasm is so low for Coakley that even pulling President Barack Obama into the race didn't help. When Obama appeared at Northeastern University on Sunday night, the hall was less than two-thirds filled, and according to state Democrat party sources, it required promises of transportation, food, and refreshments to entice about 600 out of town Democrats into the hall.

"There was a very large segment inside the DNC that did not advocate for the President to get into the middle of this. We're looking at a Titanic level disaster here, I think," says the DNC consultant. "Someone on the Republican side is going to write a very popular analysis of this race that says [GOP candidate Scott] Brown cracked the code to beat us. And you know what? They might be right."

Brown, who just a couple of months ago was 30 points down, when he pulled a Fred Thompson, got into a truck and traveled the state to build name ID and grassroots support. The other key, say Brown advisers: he's an electable Republican in a northeastern state. Brown was not a cookie-cutter conservative candidate who didn't fit the mold of a Massachusetts political candidate.

"You know what scares our people more than the fact that they lost Ted Kennedy's seat and the Obama mystique may take a huge hit [today]?" says the DNC adviser. "The fact that Democrats and the media can no longer make the tea party types out to be irrational, inflexible ideologues who are supporting nothing but extreme right-wing candidates. The tea party movement supported Brown, raised millions for him and worked for him, and he is not necessarily their kind of guy. Brown proves the tea party movement can be tapped politically for Republican candidates anywhere in the country if they are basically sound on taxes and small government. That is huge."

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