If you've ever spent quality time trying to move an agenda through Congress, you know that moving an agenda isn't just about lobbying individual Members. You need a "champion" for your issue. The champion introduces your bill. The champion recruits other offices to sign up. The champion introduces an amendment that carries the same idea as the bill and lobbies other Members to vote for it. The champion circulates letters to other offices. The champion raises the profile of your issue in the media.
When Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold lost his bid for re-election, advocates working to end the war in Afghanistan lost their champion in the Senate. It was Feingold's office that introduced the bill, introduced the amendment, circulated the letter, led the lobbying of other offices, led the charge in the media.
Now California Senator Barbara Boxer has re-introduced Feingold's bill requiring the President to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan - a timetable with an end date. So far, Senators Dick Durbin, Tom Harkin, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sherrod Brown have signed on as co-sponsors of Senator Boxer's bill.
Instead, he said in an interview Tuesday that he would create a new national organization aimed at building support to repeal the recently enacted health-care overhaul.
Mr. Pataki's decision to bypass the Senate race marks another major coup for Ms. Gillibrand, who has been enormously successful in knocking out competition on both sides of the aisle despite appearing to be vulnerable politically.
I agree with Phillip Anderson of The Albany Project blog; it sounds like Pataki wants to run for president. He must be delusional if he thinks he has a chance in a GOP primary with his relatively moderate record as governor.
A year ago, Gillibrand seemed less than secure for the 2010 election, but various potential high-profile challengers have declined to take on this race. (New York's other U.S. Senate race has always been in the safe D category with Chuck Schumer.) Taniel of the Campaign Diaries blog noted yesterday that with Gillibrand no longer threatened, the last Senate seats that could still become competitive are Washington and Wisconsin. I think three-term incumbent Patty Murray would prevail even if the GOP's best candidate, Dino Rossi, got in the race. Ditto for Senator Russ Feingold against the GOP's dream recruit, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.
Harold Ford has visited all of New York City - if helicopters count. And he likes local football - after all, he eats at fancy hotels with team owners. Maybe he paid for those breakfasts with a Merrill Lynch bonus.
“I’ve examined this race in every possible way, and I keep returning to the same fundamental conclusion: If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary — a primary where the winner emerges weak-ened and the Republican strengthened,” Mr. Ford wrote in an opinion article to be published in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times.
I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republicans.”
The possibility of a run by the telegenic Mr. Ford, who has been working as a vice chairman of Merrill Lynch and a political commentator on NBC and MSNBC since moving to New York in 2006, had riveted New York’s political world, and touched off a furious behind-the-scenes effort to keep him out of the race over the last six weeks.
Thank God. Between Ford's awful roll-out and Gillibrand's solid leadership on repealing DADT, it's clear who is the superior politician and the superior policymaker here. At the end of the day, Ford has done little more than to boost Gillibrand's numbers against likely general election opponent, former Gov. George Pataki. And that's a good thing - we need Gillibrand in the Senate.
UPDATE: Full disclosure, as many of you know, I have been publicly supportive of Carolyn Maloney beyond this one post and I have discussed her potential candidacy with her personally. If she runs - which I hope she does since she'd be a great Senator - I'd be honored to work on her campaign.
Interesting news out of NY: A Quinnipiac poll released today looking forward to a possible matchup for the 2010 Democratic Primary for US Senator from NY, shows US Rep. Carolyn Maloney ahead of incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and challenger Jonathan Tasini.
It is pretty extraordinary to show an incumbent Senator losing a primary to an opponent who hasn't begun to campaign. Just as significant as the head-to-head poll, despite a well-publicized six-month effort by Gillibrand to sway New York voters, her favorable numbers have not moved.
Happy Mother's Day to my Mom and all the mothers out there.
Last week I gave my Mom a whopper of a Mother's Day gift of sorts -- the news that I would be moving back east in June as I've just accepted a job doing netroots outreach for Kirsten Gillibrand's 2010 Senate campaign. I'm extremely excited about the opportunity but unfortunately it will mean I'll be leaving MyDD, most likely right after the May 19th CA-32 election. I'll miss this crazy place and blogging every day, of course, but I know this is the right move for me professionally and personally and I look forward to the new adventure.
But more on that in a future post. For now, in the spirit of Mother's Day, I wanted to share this CNN interview with my new boss.
I hope all you Moms are having a great day!
Consider this an open thread.
Update [2009-5-10 21:15:31 by Todd Beeton]:More on Senator Gillibrand (Mom-NY) at Politics Daily.