ON THE FRITZ
DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe was telling people on Tuesday that the Democrats would absolutely hold the Senate seat of retiring Fritz Hollings, after Columbia Mayor Bob Coble dropped out of the 2004 Democratic U.S. Senate primary race. That leaves the Palmetto State’s Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum as the likely Democratic nominee.
Coble, who was viewed as more of a moderate compared to the far-left views of Tenenbaum, wasn’t raising enough money to keep up with the state official, and even trailed businessman Marcus Belk. Belk is a businessman virtually unknown in Democratic Party circles, who is partially financing his campaign with his own money.
Perhaps McAuliffe was so happy because Coble’s decision to step aside may have solved a second problem for the party in the state. Coble can take his war chest and donate it to the state party, which in turn would use the money to finance its primary. As it stands, the Democratic Party in South Carolina doesn’t have the money to hold its primary in February.
“It would be great if Coble helped, but he didn’t do conservative Democrats any favors by stepping down,” says a Democratic activist in Charleston. “Tenenbaum is not a candidate many Democrats here would want to see in Washington. She’s way too liberal.”
The newspapers on Sunday and Monday were filled with punditry saying the presidential campaign of Howie Dean that had captured the imagination of Democrats far and wide was running out of steam.
Poll numbers in Iowa showed Dick Gephardt catching up to the Vermont wunderkind, and Dean’s numbers in New Hampshire appeared to be plateauing months before a vote will be cast.
Beyond the competition saying Dean is done, though, there isn’t much evidence of Dean decline. Money is still pouring in via the Internet, and the media still seem fascinated with the man who seems incapable of not spouting off on any subject put forward to him.
That said, Dean’s campaign did find difficulties during his tour of rural northwestern Iowa on Sunday and Monday. If there is a Republican stronghold in the state, that is where it can be found, but Dean ventured there anyway in an attempt to match Gephardt’s 1988 feat of visiting all 99 counties in the state (such an effort pales in comparison to the Herculean effort of political genius Michael Barone, who visited every congressional district in the nation several years ago).
Nevertheless, Dean is trying to act like a national political figure. So he shows up in Iowa Lakes Community College for a speech. His advance team promises more than 100 people. “It was clear we weren’t going to get even 75 people for the speech,” says an Iowa Dean hand. “We needed bodies.”
So a sympathetic instructor offered her class extra credit to attend the speech (this, after all, is junior college). “The left-leaning world of academia comes to a Democrat’s rescue once again,” the Dean volunteer crowed.
BABE IN THE WOODS
Given Sen. John Kerry‘s supposed grounding in all things environmental, you’d think he’d have his facts straight. This week, Kerry spent time in New Hampshire, attempting to play the “Green” card with voters looking for a pro-environment candidate.
Kerry and his staff chose to hold an event at the University of New Hampshire, where he would lay out his plan to clean up the environment. Key among his goals was to “leverage Superfund cleanup dollars,” he told an enthusiastic crowd of granola munchers.
Only problem is, there is little money in the Superfund account. Instead, cleanups today are being financed by fines and civil penalties imposed by prosecution of polluters. And Kerry failed to mention that the Bush administration has collected more fines and civil penalties in the past two years than the Clinton administration did in the final four years of its time in control of the Justice Department and EPA.