Clintons Push for Ickes as DNC Chair


BILL and Hillary Clinton are battling behind the scenes to install longtime political operative Harold Ickes as the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, replacing Terry McAuliffe. “This is the first test of whether the Clintons can keep their grip on the party,” said one Democrat. Ickes was an advisor to David Dinkins during his mayoral administration and was close to the Clintons, helping arrange stays in the Lincoln Bedroom for big contributors. “He was the innkeeper when the White House became the Holiday Inn,” said our source. But others are vying for the job. John Kerry’s circle is talking up Jean Shaheen, the former New Hampshire governor who chaired Kerry’s campaign. And both Howard Dean and Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, want the job, as well as Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who wants to make sure his state’s widely watched caucus continues to be held before any of the presidential primaries.

Interesting. Brazile and Dean would be awful choices, in my judgment, in that they have no obvious appeal to anyone outside the hard core base of the party. Ickes strikes me as a perfectly reasonable choice, although his ties to the Clintons might give rise to charges that he can’t be an honest broker, given that a Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy in 2008 is considered a given. Vilsack might be the best of the four options, in that he’s not tied to any of the candidates, has demonstrated some sound political judgment by getting elected governor of a swing state, and hasn’t demonstrated that he’s a lunatic on national television.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Vilsack’s still got half his current term as governor ahead of him. Or does the DNC chairmanship not require giving up the day job? Marc Racicot had to resign as governor of Montana to chair the RNC…