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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Clowns for Cuellar

The Texas race between Ciro Rodriguez and the DINO Henry Cuellar is heating up. Looks like some unexpected help may be coming from inside the Cuellar campaign, in the form of Cuellar's Democratic strategist (*cough*) Bob Doyle, whose skills were so meager he failed to get the 50 (yes, 50) signatures he needed to put his Ohio Democratic candidate on the ballot (and who must now run as a write-in).

I have a rather large poodle who could've done a better job.

From today's Roll Call:
An embarrassing last-minute filing snafu in a must-win Ohio open-seat House race has led to a round of behind-the-scenes finger-pointing in Democratic circles, as party leaders sought to assess blame for state Sen. Charlie Wilsons (D) failure to qualify for the primary ballot in the 6th district.

As Wilson announced Friday that he will pursue a write-in campaign to win the Democratic nomination, it was clear that some in the party were looking to Bob Doyle, Wilsons fundraising consultant who was believed to hold great sway over the campaign, to shoulder at least some of the responsibility for the major setback.

"I think in any screw-up like this one, you first look to the campaign manager and then you look to the consultant," said one Democratic operative.


[I]n 2004, Doyle further incensed some party insiders on Capitol Hill by working to defeat a Democratic incumbent in a Texas primary.

His client in that race, now-Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), is currently involved in a biter rematch with former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) in the March 7 primary. Cuellar, a conservative Democrat who touts his ties to President Bush and was recently endorsed by the Club for Growth, is unpopular with liberal party leaders and interest groups.

As head of Sutters Mill Fundraising and Consulting, Doyle has built his reputation on electing moderate to conservative Democrats in tough contests largely in the South and Midwest, risky territory for the party in recent cycles.

But Doyles willingness to work against more liberal candidates, including incumbents, hasn't helped to foster the best relationship with his partys leadership, though he is close with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a champion of party moderates.

Meanwhile, within the DCCC, frustration with Doyle has festered in recent years due to the consultants insistence that the committee communicate with campaigns through him, according to knowledgeable Democratic sources. That frustration with Doyle has been amplified this cycle, due to the fact that he has several top-tier clients in races that are viewed as must-wins for Democrats.

Wilson and Ohios 6th district fall into both of those categories.

The open-seat race is among the most competitive in the country, and national Democrats had coalesced behind the socially conservative Wilson early on as their prospect for holding the seat that Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) is vacating to run for governor.

But last week Wilson was deemed ineligible to appear on the May 2 primary ballot after only 46 of the 96 signatures he submitted were ruled valid four shy of the 50 needed to qualify for the ballot in the Buckeye State.

Wilson has decided to run as a write-in in the primary, on a ballot where two lesser-known and underfunded Democrats will be listed.


Wilsons failure to make the ballot opened a wide door for Republicans to raise questions about the competence of his campaign and whether he is ready for a national-level race.

"Charlie Wilsons inept non-candidacy is badly wounded both politically and in terms of his failure to understand the geography of the district he wishes to represent in Washington," NRCC spokesman Ed Patru said in a statement following Wilsons disqualification.

Wilson is not the only highly-touted candidate in a competitive race Doyle is working to elect this cycle.


Last year, some party insiders privately questioned whether Doyles close relationship with DCCC Executive Director John Lapp was factoring prominently in his firms ability to score a number of top-tier recruits.

Lapps and Doyles political ties date back to the 1998 cycle and the campaign of Ken Lucas, a conservative Democrat then running for an open seat in Kentucky.

Doyle, who was just getting his new firm off the ground, was a consultant to the campaign and hired Lapp to manage the race.

Lucas, who retired in 2004, is now seeking a comeback and is challenging Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) in what is expected to be a highly competitive race this November. Doyle is once again working for Lucas.
The Republicans have been taking advantage of the truly awful Democratic "strategists" for years. It's nice to know we may now be able to take advantage of the same -- there's no reason to think they won't be shooting Cuellar in the foot too and staying true to form.

But how many other seats are these people going to cough up to the GOP through cronyism and ineptitude before they're through?

The March 7 Ciro primary is coming up soon so thankfully it may be working on our side for once.

You can give to Ciro here.

Update: From a dennisl at Kos: "You call them 'loser consultants.' I call them 'future Fox News experts on Democratic strategy.'"