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Schumer Gets Cold Shoulder for Endorsement

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By Chris Cillizza
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's not yet clear whether Sen. Charles E. Schumer's endorsement of James Webb over Harris Miller in today's Democratic Senate primary in Virginia will help move votes. But it did move money -- away from Schumer (N.Y.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee he leads.

The DSCC's decision to break with custom and wade into a primary battle on behalf of a Reagan administration official against a longtime Democratic loyalist outraged many influential Democrats, including some who raise a lot of money that now won't be going to the DSCC.

The most immediate fallout of Schumer's endorsement was the relocation of a post-primary fundraiser for the DSCC that was scheduled to be at the home of former lieutenant governor Donald S. Beyer Jr. and his wife, Megan. The longtime Democratic fundraisers are Miller supporters. The Beyers begged off after Schumer's move, for which they received no notice.

The event will be at another venue, but is likely to bring in considerably less money as irritated Miller backers join the Beyers in taking a pass on helping the DSCC.

Phil Singer, communications director at the DSCC, said his organization does not discuss internal fundraising matters.

Schumer, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and some other Washington Democrats believe that Webb, a former Republican and an opponent of the Iraq war, would be a more electable nominee against Sen. George Allen (R-Va.). Miller has focused his campaign more locally, touting his endorsements from Virginia leaders and his record of working to elect Democrats. Using his own money, Miller has flooded the radio airwaves with ads attacking Webb's Democratic bona fides, pointing out that he endorsed Allen over Democratic Sen. Charles S. Robb in 2000.

Beyer said the DSCC should have stayed out. "They've dug a hole that was unnecessary," he said. "If Harris wins, they are going to look ridiculous. They will have irritated an awful lot of people."

Iowa Still Loves Edwards

The Des Moines Register recently released the results of a poll of likely participants in the 2008 Democratic caucuses that established John Edwards -- not Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) -- as the current Iowa front-runner. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina and the 2004 vice presidential nominee, took 30 percent to Clinton's 26 percent.

John Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, garnered and 12 percent Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack had 10 percent. Other candidates who are expected to enter the 2008 Democratic presidential contest, such as former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner and Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), garnered single-digit support.

Edwards finished a strong second behind Kerry in the 2004 Iowa caucuses and has never shut down his operation there. (Several top Edwards aides in Iowa are involved in Secretary of State Chet Culver's 2006 gubernatorial campaign.) Edwards spent Sunday and yesterday campaigning and raising money for Culver and Bruce Braley, the Democratic nominee in the open 1st Congressional District.

If Edwards was the clear winner in the Register poll, the most obvious loser was Vilsack, who could do no better than fourth in his home state. While few political observers expect Vilsack to equal or surpass the 76 percent showing of Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) in the 1992 Democratic caucuses, anything other than a victory in the state in the 2008 caucuses would almost certainly cripple the governor's chances in New Hampshire and beyond.

Staff writer Michael D. Shear contributed to this column.


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