Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Endorsements fast and furious and more on Nevada, gender v race

On the heels of yesterday's union endorsements for Obama, he picks up 2 allies, Political Wire reports - John Kerry and Rep. George Miller. Yes, John Kerry has the emails of 3 million people who were desperate for anyone but Bush, but I would argue he has no real national base. So even though he is a household name, I don't think this endorsement holds much water. In fact, the NYT reports that the Obama campaign wasn't sure that they should even release it before Iowa:

The newspaper says the endorsement is weeks in the making. "In the final days before the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Kerry was on the verge of endorsing Mr. Obama, several senior Democratic officials said, but a final decision wasn’t made because it wasn’t clear how it would affect the campaign. So Mr. Kerry decided to hold off on the endorsement until after the New Hampshire primary."

I am not surprised by Kerry endorsing Obama because he has never been a Clintonite. Kerry still has a remarkably liberal voting record, despite the "I was for it before I was against it" gaffe that probably cost him the election. And I do believe that John Kerry is for change, even if he is not the right standard bearer.

More interesting than Kerry is George Miller's endorsement. He is like a capo for Nancy Pelosi, so he wouldn't have moved without her consent. He is also a liberal stalwart like Teddy Kennedy, a liberal old lion. Miller is a staunch fighter for the middle class, the environment, and many of the left's most central issues. I would have figured him for an Edwards supporter, but I suppose he thinks Edwards is over. Other Pelosi accolytes who are on board with Obama include Jan Schakowsky, who is Obama's campaign chair in Illinois, and Mike Honda, DNC Vice Chair, who has not declared his allegiance yet. (But I would bet Obama, and ditto for Dean.) It would be interesting if it came down to a Pelosi-Reid showdown that was behind the battlefield for Obama-Clinton. In Nevada, the sole Democratic congresswoman, Shelley Berkeley, came out for Clinton after saying that she, like Senator Harry Reid, would not endorse. Berkeley hasn't been in office long, so I am not sure that she has the same machine that Culinary has. And she definitely doesn't have Culinary's notoriously skilled organizers.

On the other hand, Nevada is a conservative/libertarian "live and let die" kind of culture that isn't afraid to elect female representatives. Berkeley is the second woman elected to Congress from Nevada, and well, at least her views are in line with Clinton's votes on the war - she was one of 81 House Dems to vote to go to war. More on Culinary's power and numbers here - estimated turnout of 10,000 out of 60,000 members ain't shabby, but I wouldn't be surprised if the number doesn't wind up being higher. Estimated turnout overall for Nevada caucuses ranges wildly from 28,000 to 100,000 (!!!) Talk about the difficulties of polling that wide a disparity. Also, 28,000 still seems on the low side for a state that had over 800,000 turn out total for the presidential in 04.

More on the race-gender divide: Aravosis asks if the voters weren't afraid of seeming racist to the pollsters.

MSNBC’s “First Read” political blog framed it this way: “In fact, we can only think of three races in which the public polls and the final result were SO off, and they all involved African-American candidates: Bradley's '82 gubernatorial campaign in California, Doug Wilder's surprisingly narrow '89 victory for Virginia governor, and Harvey Gantt's surprise loss for North Carolina Senate.

UGH. Does this mean Iowans are afraid of electing a woman and New Hampshire residents afraid of a black president? Let's not be so reductive.

UPDATE: Senator Tim Johnson (D-ND), who holds one of the reddest Democratic seats, just endorsed Obama. Expect more Senate endorsements to roll Obama's way soon - he needs to make up the superdelegate gap. It's one of the benefits of having a true 50 state strategy and actually putting resources and money on the ground in ALL states to develop and grow the Democratic party.

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