I'm fascinated at the drama playing out behind the scenes between Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman. It strikes me as something out of an old movie.
Joe Lieberman is in the race of his life, challenged from the left by a rich unknown named Ned Lamont. Lamont's roots are in the hard left, and one of his most prominent supporters is Jim Dean, head of Democracy for America, and brother of the DNC Chairman. And (Jim) Dean is not a late-comer, or someone who likes Lieberman but happens to prefer Lamont. Rather, he searched for months to find a challenger to Joe Lieberman, and was one of the people who drew Lamont into the race. Now, Democracy for America has endorsed Lamont.
Now obviously, Jim Dean would not be fighting with such determination to knock off Lieberman, if his brother Howard really thought it was a terrible idea. Howard realizes how important it is to preserve every Democratic Senate seat if they want to win the majority, and ought to be willing to pull out all the stops to prevent a serious challenge to a good incumbent like Joe Lieberman. So you know that the DNC Chairman must really not care for Senator Lieberman.
So you figure, 'well, as long as Howard Dean is doing a great job as DNC Chair, he can afford the luxury of sanctioning challenges to incumbents.' Let's look at that - because Howard Dean has critics of his own. In today's Roll Call (subscription required), there are some Congressional Democrats who are apparently very unhappy with the way Mr. Dean is running the DNC:
Dean: Mayors to Provide Boost
May 24, 2006
By David M. Drucker,
Roll Call Staff
As concerned Congressional strategists continue to question the ability of the Democratic National Committee to help their candidates financially, DNC Chairman Howard Dean today is hosting a series of meetings with the party’s mayors and leaders on Capitol Hill as part of his continuing effort to make Democrats competitive in all 50 states — both in this year’s midterm elections and beyond.
Dean wants to create a direct link between grass-roots voter sentiment on the ground and Democratic policy and political players in Washington, D.C., so that the party’s message is consistent and its organizational reach goes directly to the precinct level.
“We really are trying to create one Democratic Party,” Dean said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “We’re trying to create a seamless relationship between not just the DNC and the state parties, but between mayors, governors and Congress-folks.”
But Dean appeared to concede that his plan for supplementing the Democratic Congressional committees’ efforts in key House and Senate races did not include a financial boost as a part of what he envisions from the DNC.
The chairman talked of assisting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee with mail and ground wars in select districts and states.
Dean’s long-term strategy — and the national committee’s inability to financially boost Democratic Congressional candidates this year — continue to be a sore point with certain Congressional Democrats.
Earlier Tuesday, DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) said in a sit-down interview that he doesn’t expect much help from the national committee — monetary or otherwise. At least, Emanuel said, he doesn’t expect the help from the DNC to approach anything the Republican Congressional committees will receive from the Republican National Committee.
“The Republicans have been clear. The Republicans have said basically that they’re going to flood the system with cash,” he said. “Our contingency plan is to work harder. There is no cavalry financially for us.”
The DNC trailed the RNC in cash on hand at the close of April by $35.3 million ($44.7 million to $9.4 million). Accordingly, Emanuel said the Democrats would have to work harder and smarter to take advantage of their opportunities for seat gains in November.
...The RNC is clearly gleeful over Emanuel’s and DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer’s (N.Y.) dissatisfaction with Dean, and is buoyed by its significant edge in fundraising and cash on hand. That advantage in particular is one the committee plans to exploit.
“The RNC is working more closely than ever with the NRCC, NRSC, state committees and targeted campaigns to ensure resources are invested effectively and efficiently,” said RNC spokesman Danny Diaz. “This is in direct contrast to the Democrats, where Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer are questioning Howard Dean’s national strategy.”
Today, Dean is scheduled to host meetings with Democratic mayors and Congressional Democratic leaders — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).
The discussions are part of a DNC-organized conference of Democratic mayors being held this week in Washington.
Dean believes mayors are about as close to voters and their everyday concerns as an elected official gets, and he wants to use their knowledge to help inform political strategy and messaging. The chairman also wants to take advantage of mayors’ local political networks and put them to work for Democratic Congressional and presidential candidates.
I really want to read a serious reporter's look at what is going on behind the scenes here. You have Howard Dean, who Congressional Democrats believe is running the party into the ground. Meanwhile, Howard Dean's brother is spending scarce resources trying to take out one of their own, and giving Republicans hope in a seat where they would otherwise have no prayer.
You have to figure that if things continue this way, war is going to break out between Congressional Democrats and the Dean boys. Who will go down first? And will Howard last long enough for Jim to take out Joe? Or will Joe rally his townsfolk, and string the Dean brothers up from the nearest tree? And where will the liberal lions in the Democratic caucus come in? Will they back good old Joe, or will they stand aside and let Dean take him down? And what will Doc Holliday do?
You see what I mean? It's like a classic western.
It's a good thing that Howard Dean is popular with the grassroots, because he's starting to look like the Isaiah Thomas of the Democratic Party.
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