Morning Fix: The White House Plays (Political) Hardball
The White House's decision to wade into the New York governor's race is the latest example of the deep engagement of President Obama and his senior aides in the rough and tumble world of Democratic primary politics.
White House political director Patrick Gaspard met with Gov. David Paterson last Monday to express concern on behalf of the administration about Paterson's extremely weak standing in recent polls, according to several sources familiar with the sitdown.
While neither Gaspard nor anyone else at the White House specifically asked Paterson to step aside -- and he apparently has no plans to do so at the moment -- the message sent by the Gaspard meeting was clear: the president and his inner circle don't believe the New York governor can win a full term in 2010.
"The Paterson push is one more piece of evidence that this is Barack Obama's Democratic Party," said one veteran Democrat granted anonymity to speak candidly about the White House's efforts. "The question is, will he use the same strong-arm Chicago tactics against House and Senate Democrats who defy him on health care?"
The Paterson meeting marks the second time this year that the White House has jumped into a statewide race in New York. In hopes of strengthening the re-election chances of appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), the President personally called Rep. Steve Israel to ask him to stay out of the primary contest. Israel obliged and, after an extended flirtation with the race from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Gillibrand has a clear primary field and is a heavy favorite next fall.
There are several other examples of a White House willing to mix in potentially contentious primary fights. Last week, the president threw his support to appointed Sen. Michael Bennet who faces a serious primary in the form of former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff. In Pennsylvania, President Obama not only has endorsed party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter in the primary against Rep. Joe Sestak but was in Philadelphia last week to help collect cash for the incumbent.
The hand-picking of preferred candidates has been met with mixed reactions about Democrats. Some liberals have been critical of the heavy involvement -- arguing that the Obama White House has consistently backed the more conservative candidate in contested primaries.
But, much of the professional Democratic political class has welcomed the White House's hardball approach to intraparty politics as a necessity to keeping Democrats as the majority party.
"Hallelujah, for a White House political operation that understands it needs to flex its muscle -- legally, unlike the last administration -- so that the party is playing what the White House believes to be the best hand in November 2010," said Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic operative.
The White House strategy is not without risk. A loss by one of the Obama-endorsed candidates -- either in a primary or a general election next year -- opens up the White House to criticism and second-guessing about their involvement and could even do some peripheral damage to the president's political brand in 2012.
The president and his inner circle, which is populated with former campaign operatives, are well aware of the risks. But, at least for the moment, they seem to have adopted a nothing ventured, nothing gained approach to Democratic primary politics.
Monday's Fix Picks: Employee at new Fix gym said we have the body of a 41-year old. We are 33. Good times.
1. Republicans have a pulse!
2. Just when you thought the John Edwards story couldn't get worse....
3. Deeds rising.
4. South Carolinians want Mark Sanford gone.
5. Jack Donaghy gets his rightful award for the second straight year.
RNC Outraised DNC in August: The Republican National Committee raised $7.8 million in the month of August, nearly $1 million more than its Democratic counterpart, according to finance reports filed over the weekend. The RNC ended the month with $21 million in the bank while the DNC's warchest stood at $15 million. The RNC's cash total in August appeared to be fueled -- at least in part -- by conservative anger toward President Obama's health care plan; the GOP committee averaged more than 9,000 donations a day in August and had an average contribution of just $41. RNC Chairman Michael Steele attributed the fundraising success of the committee to "working families alarmed by President Obama's big-government policies."
Obama Raises Cash for DGA: President Obama will headline a fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association on Oct. 1 at the St. Regis hotel in Washington. The event, which is expected to bring in $500,000 for the DGA, is the first time the president has raised money for the group since coming into office. Among the Democratic governors expected to attend include: chair Brian Schweitzer (Mont.), vice chair Martin O'Malley (Md.), Jack Markell (Del.), Jay Nixon (Mo.), Mark Parkinson (Kan.) and Steve Beshear (Ky.). In the first six months of 2009, the DGA raised $11.6 million as compared to $12.2 million collected by the Republican Governors Association in that same time frame. There are 39 gubernatorial contests on the ballot between now and November 2010.
What They're Saying . . . About the "Full Ginsburg": President Obama's appearances on five Sunday shows drew widespread coverage as he talked health care, the economy, Afghanistan and race in America. The Washington Post led with Obama's thoughts on health care as did the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Politico went with Obama's skepticism about putting more troops into Afghanistan as did the Wall Street Journal.
Branstad Looks Strong in Iowa: Former Gov. Terry Branstad (R), who is openly weighing a run against Gov. Chet Culver (D) in 2010, received largely positive reviews for his time in office in a new Des Moines Register poll. Seven in ten voters approve of the job Branstad did as governor -- he was the state's chief executive from 1982 to 1998 -- and roughly half of the sample (48 percent) think Branstad running again is a good idea. (Among self-identified Republicans those numbers were stronger with six in ten saying another Branstad bid was a good idea.) Meanwhile, Culver's approval ratings have slipped from the 60s in 2008 to 50 percent in the latest Iowa poll, which is conducted for the Register by J. Ann Selzer. Iowa has trended strongly Democratic in the last two elections but national Republicans believe Branstad has the profile to win the state back for the GOP.
Baker Rakes It In: State Sen. Gilbert Baker (R) collected more than $200,000 in his first two weeks of active campaign as he seeks to distance himself from a crowded -- and undistinguished -- group of Republicans seeking to knock off Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) next November. Baker said he plans to have $1 million on hand by the end of the year, a total which, if he can reach it, should clearly make him the class of a field that includes a state senator who referred to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) as "that Jew" and a businessman who said you would need "shots" to go to southeast Arkansas. Polling conducted in the race earlier this month showed Lincoln leading Baker by a 44 percent to 37 percent margin -- despite the fact that nearly three-quarters of all voters didn't know enough about the Republican to offer an opinion on him.
Another GOP Candidate in NH-Senate?: William Binnie, a wealthy businessman from New Hampshire's Seacoast, is considering a run for the Republican Senate nomination in 2010, he told the Manchester Union-Leader over the weekend. Binnie told the paper he is "actively exploring" a candidacy, joining businessman Ovide Lamontagne and Republican National Committeeman Sean Mahoney in the consideration phase of the campaign. Former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte is already in the race for the GOP nod and has secured significant establishment support from Republicans in Washington. If Binnie ran, his personal wealth would likely make him a player although, as the Union-Leader pointed out, he has contributed to Democrats as well as Republicans during his years as a donor. The increasingly crowded Republican field provides a stark contrast to the Democratic side where Rep. Paul Hodes is running unopposed.
Say What?: "I am like a mother bear when it comes to campaigns." -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) draws a somewhat odd parallel when discussing his upcoming primary fight against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
September 21, 2009; 5:34 AM ET
Categories: Morning Fix
Save & Share: Previous: Paterson, White House Adviser Huddled About Re-Election
Next: The Most Important Number in Politics Today
Posted by: JakeD | September 22, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 22, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ruraledcomm | September 21, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ruraledcomm | September 21, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Gator-ron | September 21, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 21, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 21, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sverigegrabb | September 21, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 21, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: benniecsmith | September 21, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: DDAWD | September 21, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DDAWD | September 21, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: nodebris | September 21, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowbama | September 21, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 21, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: edlharris | September 21, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DDAWD | September 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: CubsFan | September 21, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 21, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: shrink2 | September 21, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: AndyR3 | September 21, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 21, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: scrivener50 | September 21, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: shrink2 | September 21, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: shrink2 | September 21, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: johndog | September 21, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 21, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.