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McCain Loses Key Michigan Backer

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox plans to resign his post as state chairman of Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign, according to state and national sources.

Cox, who was elected attorney general in 2002 and is widely expected to run for governor in 2010, did not return an email seeking comment. The McCain campaign also declined comment.

McCain won Michigan in 2000 over then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and at the start of the year seemed well positioned to repeat that feat. But as McCain's campaign stumbled nationally, his Michigan numbers fell as well. Michigan has moved its primary up to Jan. 15 as both Democrats and Republicans in the state seek to increase their say over their respective party nominees.

The departure of Cox comes at a tough time for McCain who appears to have finally arrested his free fall in polls following two disappointing fundraising quarters and the departure of nearly all of his senior staff. In recent weeks, McCain has seemed to gather himself -- performing quite well in the most recent Republican debate, reasserting his early support for the surge strategy in Iraq and upping his criticism of deposed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Even as things appear to be looking up for McCain outwardly, rumors continue to abound of fundraising struggles and more staff departures. Without an organization (or the requisite millions to fund an organization) in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire, it will be tough for McCain to capitalize on any momentum he might gain over the next few months.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 17, 2007; 9:16 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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