Mixed Results for White House Midterm Effort
During the 2006 mid-term elections, the White House used its political affairs office to coordinate visits by high-level administration officials for Republican candidates.
The use of government staffers to arrange such meet-and-greets is nothing new. Every presidential administration since the early 1980s has used the office to schedule similar events.
So while the draft report (PDF) released yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was not a surprise (White House spokesman Scott Stanzel it was little more than an effort "to score political points" three weeks before Election Day), it did show how successful, or unsuccessful, the Bush administration was in courting voters during the '06 races.
The top beneficiary of some 326 visits by Bush administration officials was former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who scored 20 get-togethers with department chiefs during his 2006 re-election bid. It didn't help. Santorum lost handily to Bob Casey Jr., a former state treasurer and the son of a former popular governor.
The impact on the other top recipients was mixed. Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico narrowly won her re-election bid by a few hundred votes, and Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio squeaked out a victory. But former Indiana Rep. Mike Sodrel, after serving only one term, lost to Baron Hill in a tight race.
Maybe it was the company they were keeping. Big names like Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales only attended two events a piece. Meanwhile, less-recognizable officials like Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez led the way with 59 events, followed by former Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns with 38 and Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao with 25.
By Derek Kravitz |
October 16, 2008; 7:07 AM ET
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