FROST ON THE HUSTINGS
What with the likes of outgoing Rep. Cynthia McKinney talking up the plight of the Palestinians, and emissaries of Democratic Senate hopeful, New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, rumor-mongering about her Republican opponent’s Middle Eastern heritage, it’s a nice change of pace to see a Democrat touting and putting a positive spin on his Jewish heritage. At least that’s what campaign fundraisers for Rep. Martin Frost (Tex.) have been doing.
Frost has pushed hard on the campaign fundraising trail this time around, in part to support fellow House Democrats as they seek to retake the majority. He has doled out tens of thousands in donations to candidates, and sponsored fundraisers on their behalf across the country. Another reason for the effort is his desire to leapfrog over House Whip Nancy Pelosi to become Democratic Leader, and possibly Speaker of the House, should his party ever regain control of that body.
Frost’s desire for leadership is no secret, but it’s somewhat surprising to hear that his campaign is hitting up wealthy Jewish donors for money solely on the basis of his faith. “For a lot of people the fact that Frost is Jewish isn’t a big deal, but for some devout Jews, it’s a big deal that a potential leader of this country is Jewish and proud of it,” says a DNC fundraiser.
But it isn’t all about pride. It’s also about scaring people and playing on fears. Just as Shaheen’s fundraisers have been doing in meetings with donors in Boston and New York, Frost’s people have been hinting that not to support their candidate is to give the pro-Palestinian, pro-Arab lobby a leg up in Washington.
“It’s just weird,” says the fundraiser. “I haven’t seen anything like this in a while. You ‘re always looking for an ‘in’ with a donor, anything that will help you get that check. But I don’t recall us ever using a person’s Jewish heritage or faith in this way. [Sen.] Joe Lieberman has certainly never done it.”
California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon has called his state party’s bluff and cut a check for $4 million to his own campaign to underwrite big media buys up and down the state.
Simon decided to pump his own money into the campaign, staffers say, after seeing polling numbers that show he still has a reasonable window of opportunity to catch Gov. Gray Davis in the polls over the next seven weeks. “We’re still big double digits back, but the undecided vote is still large, and we have had only good news the past couple of weeks. Davis’s numbers still suck, though, which is why we’re optimistic,” says a Simon adviser in Sacramento. The best good news Simon had was an appeal court’s reversal of the $78 million judgment against the Simon family’s investment firm.
The Republican candidate is also hopeful that his personal investment in the campaign will force the state party to give him money he believed the party was going to give him all along. “The state GOP owes us at least $2 million. That could go a long way to helping us well into October,” says the adviser. “At the very least, the state party could go to the national party on our behalf. It’s why they are here.”
Another reason for Simon’s new upbeat thinking is an in-state poll that shows President Bush with unprecedented support in the Golden State. He has an approval rating of almost 60 percent, and if a Bush-Gore rematch were to be held today, the Field Poll shows that Bush would beat Gore by better than 12 percent — the same number by which Gore beat Bush in California two years ago.
Interestingly, the New York Times yesterday concurred that Bush “maintains high approval ratings here,” but otherwise noted that Simon “remains a long shot.” The story, by John Broder, said the California GOP is all but dead. It said “even party loyalists acknowledge fundamental problems,” and for buttressing immediately quoted failed gubernatorial candidate Richard Riordan — neglecting to note Riordan was such a party loyalist that he ran for the GOP nomination ashamed ever to call himself Republican. It quoted a few other state Republican figures — but never once mentioned Gerald Parsky, who happens to rule over the California GOP with White House backing and generally is regarded as the man who has kept the state party from providing serious support to Bill Simon.
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