American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees labor boss Gerald McEntee, who played kingmaker in the 1992 presidential election race by elevating a then-obscure Arkansas governor to the Democrat nomination for president, stayed inside the "family" and pushed forward the endorsement of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in late October.
But McEntee didn't just do ithe made both Clintons sweat it out for more than five months.
Playing hard to get, McEntee also played footsy with John Edwards and to a lesser extent Sen. Barack Obama. According to Clinton campaign insiders, Hillary Clinton met with McEntee no fewer than seven times over the preceding five months. What's more, "President Clinton met with him at least that many times, a couple of times over dinner," says a campaign source.
AFSCME's support is big for Clinton, because strategically it helps her in Iowa, where she has been struggling with winning grassroots backing. AFCSME intends to budget more than $55 million in get-out-the-vote money for early primary states, according to labor insiders, compared to the $48 million it officially budgeted in 2004, and there is manpower behind those dollars. There are tens of thousands of AFSCME members in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Michigan.
The dollar amounts budgeted for political activity maybe much higher, too. Particularly if AFSCME and other unions pool money for activist groups as they did in 2004.
House Republicans may not be able to throw much into blocking the plethora of earmarks Democrats are foisting onto appropriations bills-between Reps. John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, and Steny Hoyer, there are more than $500 million on the books for 2008-but they intend to go after the budget inserts hard throughout 2008 with an aggressive monitoring system on many of the high ticket items.
"If we aren't doing it, outside anti-pork and pro-taxpayer groups will," says a House leadership aide. "All the polling and public outcry tells us we're reaching a tipping point with this stuff. It's going to be a huge issue for us in the election cycle."
Sen. Sam Brownback isn't up for re-election until 2010, but he's already focusing on winning back votes in the state he may have lost from his presidential bid. Brownback, according to Kansas state party officials, isn't in any serious danger of not being reelected, but his support of immigration reform didn't sit well with some grassroots conservative folk on the other side of the issue. Brownback, according to aides, will work to rebuild those relationships over the next year.
The Long and Short of It
Rudy Giuliani likes to say that he keeps his promises, so you have to wonder how he's going to keep the promises he's made to at least ten different individuals about his short list for vice president.
Giuliani appears to be the only candidate right now offering short list consideration to potential supporters, including Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, as well as a few others.
"The language is always a bit couched, but it's always, 'I'll give you serious consideration on the short list,'" says a Giuliani campaign adviser. "We don't promise a whole lot, there is a lot more to be done before a short list becomes a …