New York GOP Mounts ‘STOP HILLARY’ Effort
New York Republicans are already working hard to defeat Hillary Clinton in her Senate re-election bid in 2006, according to an AP report.
Claiming Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for the White House, New York’s GOP chairman has kicked off a national “STOP HILLARY NOW!” fund-raising effort to thwart her 2006 Senate re-election bid. “Stopping Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most important thing you and I can do as Republicans in the next two years,” says the fund-raising appeal sent out by Stephen Minarik. “You could say it’s our duty as Republicans.”
Minarik’s fund-raising letter, dated Friday, promises a Republican “truth squad” that will “monitor Hillary’s appearances and expose her lies.” While Minarik has sent out similar missives to New York Republicans, Friday’s appeal a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press is his first to the potentially more lucrative national anti-Clinton audience.
Clinton, who has said she is not looking beyond her Senate re-election effort, has countered with fund-raising appeals of her own, including a March 31 e-mail warning supporters she is “the No. 1 target for the right-wing attack machine.”
Spokeswoman Ann Lewis said Sunday that the Clinton campaign was “not surprised that the Republican Party has chosen to wage a personally negative campaign. They don’t want to talk about Hillary’s record of working for New Yorkers, throughout the state and in the Senate.”
In his four-page letter, Minarik refers to Clinton six times as a “radical liberal” or “ultraliberal,” and says she is the “darling of the wealthy liberal left especially the Hollywood left” and has a “vast network of far-left contributors.”
Complicating Minarik’s anti-Clinton effort is the fact that the state party has yet to come up with a big-name challenger to take her on in 2006. Minarik’s mentor, Gov. George Pataki, has said he has no interest in being a senator and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s top political aide said Giuliani is too busy with business interests to run for office next year. Both men are considered potential 2008 presidential candidates.
Even though Senate races are more competitive than their House counterparts, it’s almost inconceivable that any but a true superstar candidate would have any shot at ousting Clinton. She’s a disciplined candidate, is in synch with her electorate, and has by all accounts been a solid Senator. Guiliani or Pataki might be able to do it, but they’d end their careers if they lost. Barring some amazing scandal or the emergence of an Arnold Schwartenegger-type dark horse, her seat is safe for the Democrats.
Update (April 11): In Attempt to Oust Clinton, a Strategist’s Comeback Bid (NYT)
Mr. Finkelstein, a longtime adviser to Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, is setting up a political action committee to mount a campaign offensive against Mrs. Clinton in 2006, when she is up for re-election, according to Republicans familiar with his plans. Mr. Finkelstein, who is known to be reclusive, would not comment for this article. But Republicans who know of his intentions say he is moving behind the scenes to line up donors to help the committee, called Stop Her Now, reach its goal of raising as much as $10 million to finance an independent campaign against her.
His plan includes financing an advertising assault against her similar to the one orchestrated by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that attacked Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam service during the presidential election, according to the Republican officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Many details are sketchy, including whether Mr. Finkelstein has the start-up money and staff necessary to get the project off the ground. But Republicans close to Mr. Finkelstein said the negative feeling that Mrs. Clinton arouses among Republicans would make it relatively easy to raise money. “There’s a very good argument to be made that you could fund this committee through direct-mail appeals and through the Internet, just because she is so strongly disliked, particularly by activist Republicans,” said one Republican official.
Stop Her Now is among the newest of the so-called 527 advocacy groups that have been springing up since last year’s campaign season. These partisan groups, known as 527’s because of the tax code that governs them, have helped Democrats and Republicans raise enormous sums of money and energize their political bases. The groups began playing a prominent role last year after new campaign finance laws prohibited major donors, unions and corporations from giving unlimited amounts of money to parties. Those donors, in turn, began pumping money into the coffers of 527’s instead.
The preparations against Mrs. Clinton come at a time when she appears to be riding high in New York, with her popularity rating soaring and state Republicans having a difficult time recruiting a top-tier candidate to run against her. But Mrs. Clinton’s advisers say they are prepared for a hard election season, predicting that Republicans from across the country will mobilize to stop her in New York. Indeed, Republicans are warning that Mrs. Clinton will be in a position to run for president in 2008 if she is not defeated in New York next year. Mrs. Clinton’s political advisers have seized on the news of Mr. Finkelstein’s plans to rally their own troops. In a fund-raising e-mail message sent out this month, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign cited the plans as evidence that the senator will become the prime target of “the right-wing attack machine.”
Political strategists in both parties say that Stop Her Now represents a chance at political redemption for Mr. Finkelstein, who not only helped engineer Mr. Pataki’s 1994 victory over Mr. Cuomo but also gained notoriety with his strategy of turning the word “liberal” into a liability for Democrats in national races he directed in the 1990’s. Mr. Finkelstein’s personal life made headlines Saturday after he said he had married his longtime male partner in a civil ceremony in Massachusetts, a move that startled some of his associates, given his history with the Republican Party.