Sen. John Durkin (D-N.H.) says that President Carter's energy policies have "pushed me to the point of running against him as a favorite son in the nation's first primary" in 1980.
"It's a risky thing to do and it will probably hurt my political future, but something has to be done now to force Carter to deal with the energy issue," Durkin said Wednesday.
At a news conference in the state-house today, Durkin said the Energy Department is "in never-never land and in a catatonic state."
He told reporters he had no doubts about the political risk of running in the primary, which he likened to the life expectancy of "a tailgunner in a B17 over Europe in World War II."
The first-term senator said his sole purpose in entering the race would be to force a change in federal energy policies. He said he would back off only if Carter "moves and moves immediately" to get adequate home heating oil to New England.
Months ago, Durkin "kissed off" Carters chances in February's New Hampshire primary, saying, "If their homes aren't heated, people will crawl through the snow to vote against Carter."
In Connecticut today, Gov. Ella Grasso also warned Carter that if he does not make good on his promise that there will be enough home heating oil this winter, he will see the results in the 1980 presidential compaign.
Grasso wrote Carter saying she was "horrified" by a memo from Energy Secretary James R. Schlesinger to Carter in which he said there probably will not be enough home heating oil this winter.
Grasso asked how Carter could have promised her and other Northeast governors June 7 that they would have the home heating oil they need this winter, when Schlesinger's memo was hand-delivered to the president the day before.
"Mr. President, we must have fuel to heat our homes and our business," the governor wrote. "Our people cannot be forced to bear additional hardships in this region. This is a problem of national dimension and it requires action at the national level."