In a Sea of Political Endorsements, Six That Could Make Waves

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By Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray
Sunday, January 28, 2007

Every day the potential presidential candidates fill The Fix's inbox with press releases touting some new endorsement from a sheriff in South Carolina or a state legislator in Michigan. For the most part, these endorsements are aimed at building momentum but have zero practical effect on the hunt for votes. Not all endorsements are created equal, however. Some really do matter. Here's a look at six of the most important.

Republicans

Former governor Jeb Bush (Fla.): Not only is Florida expected to move its primary all the way up to Feb. 5, 2008, it is also a treasure trove of campaign contributions if you run in the right circles. Bush knows all the political and financial road maps. He also happens to be the president's brother.

Rep. Steve King (Iowa): King represents the vast -- and overwhelmingly Republican -- 5th District in western Iowa. He's also one of the state's leading conservatives and an outspoken opponent of immigration reform.

Gov. Mark Sanford (S.C.): Most of the statewide elected officials in the Palmetto State have chosen sides, but not Sanford. Although he backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2000, Sanford has made clear that he hasn't decided where to throw his support this time.

Democrats

Sen. Ted Kennedy (Mass.): Sen. John Kerry's decision to step out of the 2008 race makes Kennedy one of the most sought-after free agents in the field. Kennedy has ties to several of the candidates, although Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) stands to benefit most from an endorsement by the liberal icon.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.): The highest-ranking African American in the House, Clyburn is the rare modern politician with a proven political machine at his disposal. And he sits in a state that will vote on Jan. 29, 2008.

Former governor Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.): Shaheen, a former three-term governor, maintains an active political organization in the state, overseen by her husband, Billy. She may not be able to endorse from her current perch at Harvard, but a lot can change in a year's time.

A Winter Showdown in the Sunshine State?

So long ethanol, helllllo offshore drilling and big sugar .

Pandering to Iowa farmers is part of the job description for presidential candidates, but if several big states move up their 2008 primary dates, the promises will multiply like bugs on a Florida windshield.

The Sunshine State could be a particularly interesting addition, if the legislature decides, as expected, to reschedule from its usual March date to Feb. 5, just after New Hampshire votes. Florida features a complex mix of niche issues, including relations with Cuba, Everglades restoration and energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the Senate, Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have taken opposite positions on both Cuba and offshore drilling. Obama twice voted to cut off funding for TV Marti, which is jammed by the Cuban government, while Clinton supported maintaining the signal. Clinton backed an expansion of oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico; Obama voted against it.

GOP candidates are starting to carve up the state, with former governor Mitt Romney (Mass.) making a strong early showing, with support from members of Jeb Bush's inner circle. But state GOP insiders believe that Gov. Charlie Crist (R) is a McCain man.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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