May 13, 2006

Dean, Emanuel in rift over where Dem resources should be spent

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and the leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have clashed angrily in recent days in a dispute about how the party should spend its money in advance of this fall's midterm elections.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is leading the party's effort to regain majority status in the House, stormed out of Dean's office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session.

The blowup highlights a long-standing tension that has pitted Democratic congressional leaders, who are focused on their best opportunities for electoral gains this fall, against Dean and many state party chairmen, who believe that the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up -- even in states that have traditionally been Republican strongholds.

Emanuel's fury, Democratic officials said, was over his concern that Dean's DNC is spending its money too freely and too early in the election cycle -- a "burn rate" that some strategists fear will leave the party unable to help candidates compete on equal terms with Republicans this fall.

Emanuel declined to talk about his meeting with Dean but was blunt about his concern that the DNC is not managing its resources wisely.

"This is a historic opportunity, and we can't squander it," Emanuel said.

Although Dean has proved to be a more impressive fundraiser than some skeptical Democrats once thought -- the DNC has taken in $74 million since the start of this election cycle in 2005 -- he has also been a prolific spender. Disclosure forms for the first quarter of this year showed the party with about $10 million in cash on hand. The Republican National Committee, by contrast, has raised just under $142 million this cycle and has about $43 million on hand.

Many Washington Democrats think Dean is unwise to spend on field organizers and other staff in states where House and Senate candidates have little chance of winning. Dean has maintained that the party cannot strengthen itself over the long haul unless it competes everywhere.

At a recent breakfast meeting with reporters, Dean said he has crafted a long-term business plan "and we are going to execute it." He also said, "We need to be a national party again, and I think we have to run on a message that can appeal to people in Alabama as well as it can appeal to people in New York." He declined to be interviewed for this article.


At 5/13/2006 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see Howard Dean going after the "red" states. That's the only way Democrats can win back the White House.

At 5/13/2006 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the meeting taking place? I mean the office or building; I have a friend who is a chairman and I'll go down and talk with him after it is over. Thanks.

At 5/13/2006 11:17 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Your question is in the wrong thread, and I'm not sure how knowing where the meeting is held will help, since it's already started... but it's at the Orpheum Theater, 57 S. Kellogg St. in Galesburg and started at 10 a.m. today

At 5/14/2006 2:54 PM, Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

Emanuel's objections are about control and power.

Emanuel is loyal and connected to interest groups he assumes will lose power as the grassroots gain power.

Emanuel would like to beat the Republicans, but he doesn't want to use methods that will shift the balance of power away from Neo Liberal economics (pro-WTO, pro-NAFTA, etc.) or away from unquestioning support of Israel.

The grassroots are clearly more skeptical of trade agreements and backing Israel to the hilt than the people Emanuel is used to raising money from.

Dean's formula for expanding the Dem Party means Emanuel will have to adjust. Emanuel doesn't want to do this.


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