Democrats Fighting Over 2006 Strategy
House Democrats are frustrated with Howard Dean and the DNC’s strategy for winning in 2006 and are being quite open in their dissent, reports Jim VandeHei in a page 1 story in today’s WaPo.
At a meeting last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) criticized Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean for not spending enough party resources on get-out-the-vote efforts in the most competitive House and Senate races, according to congressional aides who were briefed on the exchange. Pelosi — echoing a complaint common among Democratic lawmakers and operatives — has warned privately that Democrats are at risk of going into the November midterm elections with a voter-mobilization plan that is underfunded and inferior to the proven turnout machine run by national Republicans.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) — who no longer speaks to Dean because of their strategic differences — is planning to ask lawmakers and donors to help fund a new turnout program run by House Democrats. He recruited Michael Whouley, a specialist in Democratic turnout, to help oversee it. “I am not waiting for anyone anymore who said they were going to” build a turnout operation, Emanuel said. “It has got to be done.”
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.), who would become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee if Democrats picked up the 15 seats needed to regain the majority, said in an interview yesterday that he will quit Congress if the party does not capitalize on an unparalleled opportunity.
Compounding concerns, liberal donors such as financier George Soros, who helped fund a $100 million get-out-the-vote program in 2004, have soured on what they regard as short-term fixes offered by party leaders, several major donors said. The $100 million drive was operated by America Coming Together and was aimed at identifying and getting voters to the polls. ACT helped increase turnout significantly in key states, including Ohio, but donors thought most of their money was wasted because the Bush-Cheney operation did better.
The House Republican Conference is chuckling over this, especially highlighting Rangel’s threat to quit if the Democrats lose. I think it’s more telling that Immanuel is just ignoring Dean at this point.
While the Democrats may well win anyway, owing to dissatisfaction with President Bush, the war effort, and high gas prices, they would do so despite their inept leadership. I’ve long believed that Dean and Pelosi were among the worst possible public symbols for the Democratic Party and have seen little under their tenures to dissuade me from my original impression.