Staffers in other Democratic presidential campaigns say they can hear the rattling death gasps being emitted by the camp of Sen. Joe Lieberman, even if the Lieberman folks can’t hear them themselves.
“Their campaign is done,” says a rival campaigner for the Howie Dean candidacy. “The polls say it, the media says it. They should just get out of the way.”
Surprising sentiment, but perhaps revelatory of the political neophytism on the Dean team. After all, a Lieberman exit doesn’t really help Dean at all, and possibly helps others who could use the three or four point increase in the polls a Lieberman absence creates for them.
“You’re not going to see many of our people jumping to Dean or to Gephardt,” says a Lieberman volunteer in New Hampshire. “Maybe Edwards gets some, maybe Kerry, if they think they are backing a winner. But not Dean.”
Lieberman has been the moderate voice of reason on foreign affairs issues, while Dean, after all, is the man who pandered to the Arab community in Detroit recently, and has all but said he’d let Israel stand alone against its enemies in the region.
Lieberman staffers don’t see their man jumping ship just yet, if only because he does view himself as a voice that has to be heard. “If only to try to influence the debate, I think he stays in the race for a period of time,” says the Lieberman volunteer. “But I can’t see him staying beyond South Carolina if things keep going the way they are.”
Actually, if things keep going the way they are, Lieberman won’t have to worry about South Carolina at all. Lieberman is buried in the polls in Iowa and in New Hampshire, where he is running third or fourth, depending on which poll you look at. The numbers aren’t looking any better anywhere else.
As mentioned by the Prowler last week, there continue to be grumblings inside the Democratic National Committee about the sputtering planning for the party’s national convention in Boston.
Already there are rumors about budget shortfalls, donor problems and how organized labor (which is already putting in millions of dollars to underwrite the weeklong event) will have to bail out the party further. “Corporate backing isn’t as strong as in the past, but that may just be people sitting back and waiting to see what happens with their budgets and the economy,” says a DNC fundraiser.
Other party complainers point the finger at Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who they say is being a control freak about the upcoming summer event. Menino is said to be taking an active role in corporate and business outreach, more so than other host mayors. But given the financial impact, and the challenges Boston is taking on to make this convention happen (other cities were more attractive to the selection committee, but Boston offered more to underwrite the event), who can blame him?
Instead of point the finger at well-meaning Menino, perhaps the DNC should look at itself and the budget-busting salaries it is paying out. For example, DNC convention CEO Rod O’Connor is slated to earn $190,000 for 15 months of work. His convention Chair Alice Huffman is on the books for more than $125,000 for 13 months of part-time work. In fact, the DNC has more than 10 positions on the convention payroll that pay out more than $100,000. Most of those salaries continue to pay out two to three months after the convention actually ends.
“We’re hemorrhaging money on this convention,” says the DNC fundraiser. “They have us working around the clock trying to raise money for an event that we should already have pretty much well in hand. Then we see these salary numbers and they are just mind boggling. What are we working for, the party or a high end employment agency?”
Sen. Jon Corzine may have taken the job as chief recruiter of Democratic Senate candidates because he thought it would be like his days on Wall Street: just wine and dine and seal the deal. It isn’t working out that way, much to his frustration.
Corzine, as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has failed to garner high profile candidates for a series of open or competitive seats around the country, much to the displeasure of his leadership.
The latest failure comes out of Georgia, where Corzine failed to lure Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Zell Miller.
Now, with Nunn finally backing out, and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox also having turned down entreaties from the state party and the DSCC, it appears that the Democrats will either live with little-known state Sen. Mary Squires, or former Sen. Max Cleland, who lost his re-election bid in 2002.
“It doesn’t look good at all in Georgia,” says a DSCC staffer. “We’ve got nobody. We may just give this one to the Republicans, since they are giving us Illinois, from the way things are shaping up there.” (In Illinois, Sen. Peter Fitzgerald is retiring, with no high-profile Republican willing to step in and replace him.)
In Georgia, meanwhile, the GOP has a wealth of strong candidates. A number of national Republicans are hopeful that conservative businessman Herman Cain can get ahead of the pack. But as it stands, Rep. Johnny Isakson leads in some polls and at the bank. He has raised more than $3 million.