A Pox on Your House: In politics, timing is everything. To wit:
A year ago, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), went to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a supplicant, pleading with it to steer a bipartisan course in funneling business money into the 1982 congressional campaigns.
Chamber officials listened politely, then proceeded to endorse 91 House candidates in the general elections--91 Republicans.
The Democrats gained 26 House seats, and earlier this month the Chamber's board decided to make "rather remarkable" changes in its endorsement criterion, which will virtually guarantee Democrats will not be shut out again, said John Kochevar, head of the Chamber's political program.
But Coelho isn't ready to smoke the peace pipe. Today he is sending a letter to all House Democrats, reminding them of the Chamber's 1982 endorsement record and urging them "not to honor" requests to appear in various Chamber-sponsored programs.
Coelho reportedly was angry that several freshman Democrats went to the Chamber for a reception earlier this week, and that two veteran Democrats appeared on one of the shows that the Chamber beams arounds the country over its private Biznet satellite system.
"We don't want to go on their shows and give them credibility when they claim they're a bipartisan group," he said. "Their executive staff is part and parcel of the national Republican Party."
The 100 percent Republican endorsement list reportedly was the source of friction within the 250,000 member Chamber, especially between president Richard L. Lesher and then board chairman (now deputy Defense Secretary) Paul Thayer, former chairman of the LTV Corp. of Dallas. Thayer argued that the Chamber should avoid the appearance of being in lockstep with one party.
The chamber does not give money to candidates, but being on its "opportunity list" is thought to be worth tens of thousands of dollars from business political action committees that look to it for guidance.
Reagan Already Running? Timing is everything--particularly for a president who Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) says is running for reelection as evidenced by his willingness to compromise on legislation and his public appearances. Hollings, an unannounced candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said that President Reagan's "quick quips" on the evening news shows are devastating to the Democrats.
"By this time next year, he'll have the Democrats denuded," Hollings, who is in Bal Harbour, Fla., seeking AFL-CIO support for his candidacy, said. "We're spinning our wheels . . . . We're getting ourselves voted out of office."
Hollings conceded to the federation's executive council that he had voted labor's way only 50 percent of the time and that he came from a right-to-work state. But he told them that no Democrat could beat Reagan without carrying the South and that he was the best able to do it.