Washington Prowler

Mean Streets

The Torch spares no change. A Van Hollen volunteer.

By 10.24.02

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SHOWING NO MONEY
As reported in the Prowler several weeks ago, retiring New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli isn't sharing much if anything with the man state party bosses installed in his ballot slot, Frank Lautenberg. Torricelli had made it clear to party officials that if they chose Lautenberg, who was a thorn in Torricelli's side when they were both in the Senate, he most likely would not contribute a dime to his replacement's campaign.

Currently The Torch has about $5 million in his campaign coffers, and at one time, was one of the most generous Senators around when it came to doling out cash to his colleagues. But not anymore. Torricelli has told long time supporters that he will use the bulk of the dough to pay off legal bills from the long, drawn out federal investigation into his acceptance of gifts from supporters. The rest of the money most likely will be poured into a political action committee he is creating.

"I suppose he'd throw some change at Lautenberg just to say he contributed," says a supporter. "But none of us expects him to do more than that."

Lautenberg is financing the bulk of his condensed campaign with his own money and that of the Democratic National Committee, which is helping to cover the cost of expensive media buys in New York City and Philadelphia, Joisey's two main media centers.

WHATEVER IT TAKES
One volunteer, perhaps a bit overzealous in her support for her candidate, thinks the unfolding tragedy in the Washington, D.C. suburbs will help, not hurt, her candidate's chances on November 5.

While canvassing in Bethesda, a volunteer for Democratic House candidate Chris Van Hollen was overheard telling supporters that her man would win because Democrats in Montgomery County, Maryland, are more dedicated and focused on winning than the supporters of liberal Republican Rep. Connie Morella.

"She was saying that Democrats wouldn't be scared of a sniper, that they'd be out there campaigning no matter what. That turnout would help Van Hollen. It was disgusting. Her comments were made lightheartedly, but when you're campaigning for a guy who's big on gun control, how can you say you're banking on a crazed sniper to win?" said a Chevy Chase, Maryland resident.

The Morella-Van Hollen race is one of the tightest and most pivotal House races in the country. Van Hollen has already been slammed for using campaign materials that made it look as if he at one time had appeared on the cover of Time magazine. And quietly, supporters of fellow Democrat Mark Shriver, who lost to Van Hollen in the primary, have been pushing an anti-Van Hollen campaign. Polls indicate the race is too close to call.

A paid staffer for Van Hollen doubted the story. "I can't believe one of our people would utter such a thing. I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't a dirty trick by Morella or even Shriver's people. We'd never seek to take advantage of this nightmare. It's just offensive."

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