Even if you’re a Dem pol, one doesn’t cross the embedded Congressional powers, and their ability to curry favors with a meddling POTUS.
Obama, at the request of Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), made an afternoon phone call to discourage Senate hopeful, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) against challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in next year’s primary.
Israel was poised to announce his candidacy until the president intervened with a Friday afternoon phone call in an effort to clear the field for Gillibrand, a source told FOX News, calling the move “messy.”
“This is a tough, heartfelt decision for me. I have received encouragement to pursue this fight from all corners of our great state,” Israel said in a statement.
The senators solicited Obama’s assistance to help Gillibrand avoid a competitive primary in 2010, a Democratic New York source told FOX News.
Menendez heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the panel charged with electing party members to the Senate and led by Schumer in past years.
It’s rare for a president to inject himself into statewide politics. And a host of New York political insiders with ties to several House Democrats say they’re angry that the president even got involved.
“What? You can’t have a primary? It’s decided in backroom deals?” asked a source who spoke to FOX News on the condition of anonymity. “What if someone told Obama he couldn’t have a primary and Hillary (Clinton) would just be the nominee? Where would he be? It’s an outrage.”~~~
“I can’t imagine why (Obama) would do this,” said one source, referring to the president’s request to Israel to step aside. “I am sure that it will upset many (New York) delegation members.”
In a statement, Menendez praised Israel as a “terrific Congressman” and said his panel looks forward to continuing working with (Gillibrand) to make sure she well-prepared for her race.”
Gillibrand, if you will remember, is the junior lawmaker (elected in 2006) appointed by Gov. Paterson to fill Hillary’s NY Senate seat. This presents an interesting questions… Gillibrand, described as a Blue Dog Dem is an outspoken advocate for gun rights for her conservative district, earning her the backing of the NRA. Needless to say, this made more liberal Dems “howl” in protest.
But Gillibrand also enjoys a 100% gold star rating from the ACLU. Clearly she is one of the “moderate” Democrats.
There are, in fact, several other challengers to Gillibrand. New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jose Serrano and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. All declined the invitation to comment on the NY Post story linked here, and none received similiar WH “advice” on whether or not to run. Perhaps because some don’t see it as anything but a two pony primary race.
Also labeling the alternative candidates as “longshots” is Newsday’s Tom Brune. According that that report, the decision to step away from the primary came shortly after Obama’s 15 minute phone call on Friday, around 3pm (NY time).
“When he asked me to take a leadership role in fighting for his agenda, I wasn’t about to say no,” Israel said in a phone interview afterward. “He believes that at this critical time, when we’ve got the climate change bill and health care reform, that party unity is important.”
The White House confirmed the call, but had no comment.~~~
In the interview, he dodged a question about whether he’ll support Gillibrand’s campaign. “The president asked me to focus on his agenda in the House,” Israel said, “and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Wise decision, Mr. Israel. I think we have ample demonstration of what happens to those who step into this POTUS’ path.
With Obama and the exising Congressional elite busy clearing Gillibrand’s path for unopposed reelection next year, and her representation now being state wide instead of a conservative district, just what favors will the young Congresswoman owe to her benefactors? Guaranteed votes, perhaps?
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.