Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chairman Chet Won't Happen

Chairman Chet? Not Gonna Happen

Some buzz and chuckles yesterday at the Politico piece that short-listed ex-guv Chet Culver for the expected vacancy as Democratic National Committee chair (incumbent Tim Kaine appears to have had his arm sufficiently twisted to run for the open Virginia Senate seat next year).

It won't happen, for reasons other than the merits, but let's look at the merits.

Five faces, all governors past or present, are flashed at the top of the column. Two of them - Culver and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland - lost last fall. But Strickland, who lost by only 2 points, is today 15 points ahead of the man that beat him in a "do-over" poll. As for the other three, Deval Patrick was re-elected in Massachusetts, Jennifer Granholm was term-limited in Michigan, and Kathleeen Sebelius of Kansas stepped down to take the HHS cabinet post.

So Culver, arguably, is the only one with a "loser" vibe at the moment." But how does it play with Iowa Democrats? Well, no one seems to be jumping up and down excited about it or forwarding the article around; the silence has to be a little embarrassing.

Chet had problems on three internal fronts. No one on either side quite forgot that the overwhelming majority of state legislators, and labor, endorsed primary rival Mike Blouin in 2006. Culver and labor eventually kissed and made up, but mostly because labor saw, correctly, what Branstad 5.0 would mean. And the feud with the left in general, and the Ed Fallon camp in particular, never did get resolved. The Culver campaign closed strong to narrow the gap last fall, but plenty of Dems thought it was too little and (especially) too late.

So those are the merits. But here's the real problem: Culver is an Iowan. And the politics of Who Goes First come into play. I can already hear Florida and Michigan screaming at the idea of a chair from Iowa "rigging" the calendar in our favor. And, in fairness, First In The Nation AND national chair may be too many goodies for us.

Besides, if you are going to name an Iowan: The best get out the vote plan I ever read was from the Henry County Democrats in 1992, written by... Christie Vilsack. Since Democrats seem determined to Lose With Leonard In `12, I say give Christie the job, get the president re-elected, take back the House... then come home to beat Latham in `14.

Or just bring Howard Dean back. We did pretty good in 2006 and 2008, right?

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