Senior Bush adviser and GOP political evil genius Karl Rove spent time in Minnesota late last week, fundraising for Republican Michele Bachmann running to hold Rep. Mark Kennedy's 6th Congressional District. Bachmann is running against Democrat Patty Wetterling, an anti-war type who has failed in previous bids for Congress.
Rove also stumped for Mark Kennedy, who is giving up his seat to run for the U.S. Senate.
Rove's arrival in Minnesota came at a time critical for Republicans there, particularly in a week that saw the release of a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll that showed Kennedy 19 points down to Democrat Amy Klobuchar.
The Kennedy/Klobuchar race is considered one of four critical races Republicans need to win if they are to hold if not expand their seat count in the Senate, and it is one that has been cited as highly competitive for Republicans, the Strib poll aside.
Almost every other in-state Minnesota poll shows Kennedy trailing within the margin of error at the narrow end and by high single digits at the other, but no double digit deficits as the Strib presented.
"Kennedy is in a good position," says an RNC political operative. "We think he's going to force the Democrats to spend up there, where they didn't think they were going to have to invest so heavily, and that's good for us and our candidates elsewhere."
It's especially important to Sens. Jim Talent in Missouri and Montana's Conrad Burns, both of whom are in tight races, to hold their seats this election cycle. "Those are the two guys who are going to need the national party's help more than others," says the operative.
The tussle between Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman, Rahm "Twinkle Toes" Emanuel and Democrat National Committee Chairman Howard Dean continues. The two have been warring for months over Dean's refusal to seed national party money to the DCCC for Congressional races it has identified.
Emanuel has pointed out that Republicans routinely fund their House and Senate organizations, while Dean instead has been doling money out to state party organizations.
The rift again took the spotlight last week, when the DNC announced that it was shipping what insiders say was a total of about $3 million to Democrat parties in Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Insiders say that Dean has budgeted between $12 million and $15 million for the state program. It was the state funding plan that helped Dean win the chairmanship 18 months ago.
But Emanuel wants part of the DNC fund shifted over to his coffers so that he and his team can better finance Congressional races that they believe could swing the majority to their side this fall. It isn't just Emanuel who is fighting Dean. His counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer has complained loudly about Dean's funding priorities, and Dean has found himself under attack in private meetings with Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Emanuel has complained about Dean to his fellow Democrat leadership colleagues, saying that something has to be done after the election cycle. That is one reason why some House insiders privately are talking almost hopefully about not retaking either House of Congress.
"A loss this year could very well put Dean in his place or take him out altogether," says a House Democrat leadership aide. "We've raised expectations so high, that if we fail to gain what we have predicted, Dean has set himself up for a big part of the blame because he controls so many purse strings."
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