Washington Prowler

Unaffordable Edgar

The price wasn't right in Illinois. Also: Bob Graham's fade.

By 5.13.03

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PRICED OUT
In the aftermath of former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar's decision not to seek Illinois' open Senate seat in 2004, word is trickling out about the reasons why Edgar's candidacy came to naught.

Last week plans for him to run seemed to be on track. He and his wife had returned from Washington after a house-hunting expedition, upbeat about having a place to live. And then Edgar sent a representative to sit down with Republican Senate leaders to discuss financial support for his Senate campaign.

"He wanted a firm commitment up front of at least $3 million from us," says a National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer. "We were willing to promise him full support for the campaign, but couldn't go out and guarantee him $3 million up front. We would have done anything and everything to make his candidacy a success. But even that kind of promise wasn't good enough for him."

The demands for financial backing weren't the only ones being made by this Chicago mob. After the meeting with the NRSC, Edgar's people sat down with Senate majority leader Bill Frist and others and said that Edgar expected to be seated on the Foreign Relations Committee should he win. Again, Edgar's minions demanded a guarantee. In the end, while Edgar would have been a formidable candidate, Republicans on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue weren't willing to make promises they're in no position to make without knowing how their Senate prospects will pan out in 2004.

GRAHAM VIABILITY
Maybe instead of beating up on President Bush, Florida Sen. Bob Graham ought to be more introspective. Graham has been given polling done by the Mason Dixon firm showing that he would lose his home state to Bush by double digits. Shocking, given that Graham's sole reason for running was his ability to fundraise out of Florida and his perceived electoral strength throughout the South.

"Given these numbers, it certainly raises questions about his short-term viability as a candidate," says a Democratic National Committee staffer. "But we're hearing from that campaign that his numbers are already starting to improve. If he's still trailing Bush six months from now, that will be the time for him to cut bait and run for re-election [to the Senate], if that's what he wants to do."

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