Washington Prowler

Santorum Up

Relief at new numbers. Plus: Help me, Honda!

By 2.16.05

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IN CASEY YOU MISSED IT
No one in Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's office was paying much attention to the Quinnipiac poll released earlier this week that showed him trailing State Treasurer Robert Casey, Jr. 46-41 percent in a head to head race in 2006 Senate election. Yet for those who did take a gander, it had to be heartening news.

Santorum holds a strong 52 percent favorability rating in the same poll, much better than President Bush's favorability in the same survey. And the fact that Santorum easily beats any and all other named prospective Democrats in the polling indicates he is in a good position for the campaign.

According to a National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer, Santorum's internal polling, while showing him a bit better off than Quinnipiac's survey, tracks closely with the independent polling company's results.

Beyond the good news about the narrow margin, Santorum supporters were pleased to see Casey's favorability numbers a tad lower than Santorum's, and the general consensus is that Casey is a workmanlike campaigner who will be challenged by Santorum's high-energy style on the stump.

"Overall it's not a bad place that Santorum finds himself," says the NRSC staffer. "When you consider that the Catholic vote -- no matter what anyone believes -- is going to end up behind Santorum, and that he has a proven track record across the state, you have to think Rick is a strong position. This is technically a Blue State, after all."

NANCY'S BOY
New DNC Chairman Howie Dean has been warned by his staffers to keep an eye on new vice-chairman Rep. Mike Honda. The California Democrat was one of Rep. Nancy Pelosi's handpicked candidates for the DNC job, and the House minority leader has made it clear that Honda is her man at the Democratic National Committee.

Honda, for his part, has said all the right things about his new responsibilities, noting he wants to be a bridge between House Democrats and the national party. But Dean's team isn't buying it.
"The only bridge he's serving as is the one Nancy Pelosi can walk all over," says a former Dean staffer, who may join his transition team.

Dean is steaming at the continued minimizing of his role that Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, and, most recently, former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards have been undertaking. Over the weekend, Edwards told reporters that he did not consider the chairman of the DNC the party spokesman.

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