Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Harkin steps up for Conlin

Harkin steps up for Conlin

With tonight's quarterly federal campaign finance reporting deadline, the inbox is jammed with fundraising pitches. But the one from Team Roxanne stands out because of whose name is on the From: line - Tom Harkin.

"I've known Roxanne Conlin for years," says the message in Harkin's name, "and there's no one I'd rather have serving in the U.S. Senate alongside me."

As, uh, opposed to the person currently serving alongside you, Tom?

"The big money interests are lining up to dump millions upon millions of dollars into Iowa to protect their friends in the Senate, who'll keep things the way they are."

Meaning Chuck Grassley, Tom?

You might not think it's odd for Harkin to make a pitch for a fellow Democrat, and normally it isn't. But in the historically collegial ways of the Senate, it's unusual for same-state senators of opposite parties to campaign against each other beyond just the necessary lip service of party loyalty. The idea is you need a good working relationship that transcends party, in order to cooperate on state matters.

Grassley's past several opponents, God bless 'em, have been seen as too weak to be worth much extra effort on Harkin's part. Likewise, Grassley didn't make much noise in 2008 on behalf of Harkin's hapless opponent Christopher Reed.

But in the tea party and filibuster era we're in now, and with Conlin making the first serious effort against Grassley in 30 years, those old traditions may be falling by the wayside. Is this just the usual nod to party loyalty, or (I hope I hope I hope) is Harkin going to take the gloves off?

In any event it's a nice present on Conlin's birthday.

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