Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The New Republic Tears Apart Dole's NRSC Failure

  • North Carolina: My thanks to a frequent reader for passing this on. The New Republic takes a look at Elizabeth Dole's stint as NRSC Chair and notes the following:

    But, above the smile, her blue-green eyes seem a little tired, and all I can think is, "How much must it suck to be Liddy Dole these days?"

    Failure is hard on anyone. But it must be particularly tough for a political celebrity like Dole, with her Miss Perfect persona, to bounce back after the electoral catastrophe she suffered as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (nrsc) last year. In a cycle when the entire GOP came unraveled, Dole was singled out by fellow Republicans, who criticized--well, pretty much every aspect of her performance, from recruiting to strategy to, most notably, fund-raising. As early as August 2005, conservative columnist Robert Novak was declaring that Dole's recruitment efforts had "mostly failed." The following summer, Senator Trent Lott expressed similar anxieties ("I'm concerned about how some things have gone," he told the Chicago Tribune), while other Republican lawmakers and strategists publicly chewed their nails over the growing money gap. As Election Day drew nigh, both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman reportedly had lost so much confidence in Dole that they were intervening in races independently. Postelection, ousted Montana Senator Conrad Burns flamed the nrsc for botching its ad strategy in the state. Even now, some conservatives remain bitter about Dole's support of then-Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee's primary fight against right-winger Steve Laffey. "They spent a tremendous amount--well over a million--attacking Laffey in the primary, just to watch it go up in smoke in the general," huffs Club For Growth President Pat Toomey, whose group championed Laffey.
    Ouch. Given her so-so approval in North Carolina and that a recent poll has her losing to Mike Easley (please get in the race, Mike!), Dole is bound to have a tough re-election fight on her hands if she doesn't just retire. And I can't imagine she'll be getting much assistance from her GOP colleagues after her NRSC debacle.


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