Political malpractice

Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, speaks during their summer meeting in St. Louis on August 20, 2010. St. Louis is in the running for the 2012 Democratic Presidential Convention. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The issue of Senate recruitment is in the news again, as Jim Webb decides to retire and the Democrats are now praying that Tim Kaine will enter the race for Senate in Virginia. We’ll see if President Obama can convince him, but as Ezra Klein points out, this administration has been very bad in the area of Senate recruitments.

But the White House hasn’t always taken the recruitment of challengers that seriously. In 2008, they brought Iowa’s Tom Vilsack, Arizona’s Janet Napolitano, Kansas’s Kathleen Sebelius, and Colorado’s Ken Salazar into the administration. The payoff? They almost lost Salazar’s Senate seat and Democrats had to find weaker candidates in Iowa, Arizona, and Kansas. It stands, to me, as the administration’s single most baffling set of political decisions. There were plenty of other people capable of running the various cabinet agencies. There were no other people capable of replacing the threat Vilsack would have posed to Chuck Grassley or that Napolitano would’ve posed to John McCain, and thus no one who could’ve done as much to convince them that cooperating a bit on initiatives like health-care reform would be in their interest. Similarly, Sebelius was the only Democrat in Kansas who even had a chance of winning the state’s open Senate seat. Why pull her to Washington in a different capacity?

I think the Obama administration has been unfairly attcked by many on the left, but when it comes to politics after the 2008 election, this administration clearly made some huge mistakes. It’s stunning when one considers that Rham Emanuel was helping to run things.

Frankly, I think the Obama team got way overconfident in the political situation immediately after the 2008 election. They knew they had tough fights ahead, but they had such big majorities they probably felt they didn’t have to worry to much about a handful of Senate seats.

That proved to be a disaster. McCain would have been vulnerable against Napolitano, particularly after he swung way to the right in the primary. Grassley was also vulnerable in Iowa. They plucked some of their best candidates, and none of them are critical in their current roles.

Hopefully they have learned their lesson and they will push Kaine hard to run in Virginia.

  

Kaine embraces the 50-state strategy

Barack Obama just introduced Tim Kaine as the new Chairman of the DNC. In introducing Kaine, Obama praised Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, and then Tim Kaine reiterated that praise in his own remarks. Howard Dean deserves this praise, and I’m encouraged that both Obama and Kaine emphasized this in their remarks.

Kaine also outlined an approach that would be very consistent with Obama’s bottom-up campaign style, with an emphasis on small donors and a rejection of slash-and-burn politics. This is in stark contrast to the mess over at the RNC.

  

Tim Kaine will be new DNC chairman

This is a great move.

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will become chairman of the Democratic National Committee later this month, serving as the top political messenger for Barack Obama’s administration even while finishing his final year in the governor’s mansion, several sources said.

Kaine, 50, who emerged as a finalist for the job of Obama’s running mate last summer, will operate from Richmond in a part-time capacity until January 2010, when he will become the full-time DNC chairman. Kaine is constitutionally barred from running for reelection.

Kaine, a friend of the president-elect’s, is a gregarious chief executive who is known to relish political combat and helped put Virginia in the Democratic presidential election column for the first time in almost 50 years.

Kaine would have been great in Obama’s cabinet, but it was important that he serve out his term as governor. This allows him to to become involved in moving Obama’s agenda while serving out his term. He’s an excellent surrogate for Obama and the Democrats and he’ll be an important asset as the Obama team rolls out new policies. He knows his stuff and he’s great on TV. He looks even better when compared to the circus at the RNC.

At some point, I expect him to take a larger role in Obama’s administration after the 2010 elections.

  

Related Posts