Vice President Dick Cheney is in Denver today to raise money for Rick O’Donnell, a Republican running for congress in CD-7 (Lakewood, Golden, Arvada, Adams County). What makes Cheney’s visit so interesting to political observers, however, is how being attached to the White House might play for a local candidate like O’Donnell.
The fundraising aspect for O’Donnell is a no-brainer, because he can expect to raise several hundred thousand dollars for his campaign coffers with Cheney in town. But the downside for O’Donnell is that being attached to the Vice President may actually be a bad thing these days. Consider what happened in California last week, when an appearance by President Bush at a Republican Party fundraiser was met with disapproval by local party leaders. From the Associated Press:
Bush’s appearance on Thursday evening in California, however, didn’t suit some members of the state GOP. They said his stop at a $1 million Republican National Committee fundraiser was poorly timed because of the upcoming special election. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to court independents and Democrats, two voter blocs that typically haven’t supported Bush.
Schwarzenegger is pushing several initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot, including extending the probationary period for teachers, requiring public employee unions to get written permission from members before dues can be used for political purposes and capping state spending.
The governor’s campaign expressed disappointment that Bush would travel to the state to raise money just 21/2 weeks before the special election.
“Unless President Bush is coming to California to hand over a check from the federal government to help us with the financial challenges we face, the visit seems ill-timed,” said Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the state Republican Party.
That may sound bad, but the logic is well-formed. Bush’s approval ratings are in the mid-30s, which is about as bad as it gets for a sitting President in his second term. Whether it is the Hurricane Katrina response or the ongoing investigations in the Valerie Plame case, things are just not going well for the White House lately, and a lot of republicans apparently don’t want to go down with the ship. For O’Donnell, the Nov. 2006 election is far enough out that he probably need not worry about the connection with Cheney, but the prospect of a Presidential or Vice Presidential visit for your campaign is no longer a slam-dunk idea for republicans.