Monday, July 03, 2006

Dems Assigning Blame for November Already!

Roll Call (subscription required) reports that Rahm Emanuel and Howard Dean are still fighting about the DNC's lack of funds to assist in this year's midterms, and who should be blamed if (when?) Democrats underperform:

Emanuel, Dean Still Sparring
July 3, 2006
By Steve Kornacki,
Roll Call Staff

A letter to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean from Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has set off a new round of sniping over party strategy and resources between allies of the two party leaders.

Emanuel, who reportedly stormed out of a May meeting with Dean, penned a letter, dated June 22, to the party chairman demanding $100,000 per targeted district from the DNC to defray the cost of the DCCC’s proposed field operation, several individuals who have read the letter said.

...In making his monetary request, Emanuel cited the example of 1994, when, he said, the Republican National Committee earmarked $20 million for then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s successful drive for a House takeover. By contrast, Emanuel suggested that Dean had offered a woefully inadequate $20,000 per district.

But while his allies argue that Emanuel, through his record-setting fundraising for the DCCC, deserves wide latitude in shaping ’06 strategy, Dean loyalists took the letter as hostile in nature, coming as it did after months of coy suggestions by Emanuel that Dean and the DNC were shirking their financial obligations to the DCCC’s election year effort.

“This is all about C.Y.A.,” a Democrat familiar with DCCC operations, and sympathetic to the DNC, said. “He’s trying to lay the groundwork to blame someone else in case things go bad in November.”

On top of that, Dean’s backers contend he is not low-balling the DCCC on field operations as Emanuel suggests, and that the $20,000-per-district figure was simply a number being bandied about during negotiations, which were still proceeding when Emanuel wrote the letter.

More to the point, Dean’s allies contend, Emanuel is not taking into account what they call the unprecedented support the DNC is providing this year at the state level.

For instance, in Ohio — a quintessential battleground state where Democrats are locked in competitive contests for the governorship, a Senate seat and several House seats, a slew of statewide offices, and control of the state Legislature — the DNC has earmarked significant resources for coordinated statewide campaign efforts and has also implemented early voting and voter outreach programs designed to drive up turnout among the party’s core supporters.

“Anybody’s who’s an operative and who has been around can tell you that the DNC has never stepped up like this before,” the same Democrat said.

...Dean and Emanuel have been squabbling over campaign strategy for months, with Emanuel pushing Dean to fork over large sums directly to the DCCC for this year’s efforts. Dean has been reticent, and Emanuel’s frustrations have often spilled into the press. Despite strong suspicions that Emanuel was the source of many of those stories, Dean and the DNC have largely held their fire for the sake of party unity.

Since taking over the DNC, Dean’s relations with other Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have been similarly strained, a result of his unapologetic investing of DNC money in all 50 state party organizations — at a time when a handful of states and districts could give the party control of Congress.

Emanuel’s backers point out that the RNC is poised to spend heavily down the stretch in key House and Senate races and argue that a lack of similar support from the DNC could cost the party winnable seats. As of the end of May, the RNC had $43.1 million on hand compared to the DNC’s $10.3 million.

This is the sort of stuff that warms the heart of Republican strategists. They know that when things look their gloomiest, you can always count on Democratic leaders to help out.

I've written on this many times before. Democratic disunity is the number one threat to their efforts this year.

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