Cara Morris has been beating the drums lately for the Democrats' enhanced electoral prospects in the Senate. She quotes from this Roll Call article in which DSCC Chair Jon Corzine talks about promoting some of their candidates as a package deal.
Senate Democrats will send out an e-mail fundraising appeal today to more than 90,000 donors aimed at capitalizing on the growing diversity of their 2004 recruiting class.
"The dream team is here," Donna Brazile, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Voting Rights Institute, writes in the missive. "The emergence of Barack Obama, Ken Salazar and Congressman Brad Carson ... makes ours the most diverse class of U.S. Senate candidates in history."
Obama, a black state Senator, cruised to the Democratic nomination in Illinois last Tuesday, while Salazar, the Hispanic state attorney general, has emerged as the establishment's choice in the race to replace Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.). Carson is a member of the Cherokee Nation and is essentially unopposed for the Democratic nomination in Oklahoma.
Obama would be only the third black Senator since Reconstruction; no Hispanic has served in the Senate in the last 27 years. Carson is one of the eight American Indians to serve in Congress.
"The historic opportunity to increase diversity in the U.S. Senate, and thus the diversity of views, background and cultures ... is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss," writes Brazile, who is also a contributing writer to Roll Call.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials hinted that the fundraising appeal is the first in a series of events aimed at creating a "national story" around their candidates.
"We are going to have a class that I would like to sell as a group because of the strength of their credentials," said DSCC Chairman Jon Corzine (N.J.). "We can take this crew on the road to help us on the financial side."
[S]ome Democrats warned of the impact of grouping candidates like Obama, Salazar and Carson, pointing out that much the same pitch was made on behalf of former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk (D) in the 2002 Texas Senate race -- to no avail.
Kirk, who is black, was part of the so-called Texas dream team comprised of himself and Hispanic businessman Tony Sanchez, the Democratic candidate for governor.
The former Dallas mayor became a staple on the Democratic fundraising circuit, raising and spending more than $9 million. Sanchez spent freely from his own pocket, eventually donating $67 million to the campaign.
On Election Day 2002, however, neither candidate came close to winning or turning out the record black and Hispanic vote that was predicted.
Kirk lost to then-state Attorney General John Cornyn (R) 55 percent to 43 percent; Sanchez was defeated by Gov. Rick Perry (R) 58 percent to 40 percent.
In a recent interview, Kirk said Texas turned into "much more of a national race than a local race," adding that the best advice he could give Obama is to find "a message that resonates much broader than the African-American community."
"He's got to make the issue about Illinois," Kirk said.
That said, whatever factors may have affected the 2002 race, the "Dream Team" concept was basically a flop. Way too much attention was paid early on to Ron Kirk as "the black candidate" who was one-third of this black/white/brown ticket, and not nearly enough attention was paid to the fact that Kirk was an excellent and well-qualified candidate with a strong track record in public service. He was more of a symbol than a person, and it served him poorly. The end result what that Kirk got only about 30% of the Anglo vote statewide, which was not nearly enough.
Therefore, it's my sincere hope that if the DSCC takes Obama, Salazar, and Carson on the road, it's to tout their credentials as shining examples of smart, hard-working, and dedicated people who will make the Senate a better place. That they also come from varied racial and ethnic backgrounds is nothing more than what one should expect from a party that truly reflects and represents all of America. Kirk has it exactly right: These races should be about what's best for everyone in their states. That's how they'll win.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 24, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack