Dean vs. Dean

Robert Novak

6/18/2005 12:00:00 AM - Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic National Committee (DNC), which is running behind its Republican counterpart in fund-raising since Howard Dean took over as DNC chairman, is competing for small-dollar donors with Dean's own political organization, now headed by his brother Jim.

 When he failed to win the 2004 presidential nomination, Dean converted his campaign into a continuing political organization called Democracy for America (DFA). Just before he became DNC chairman, Dean sent out a DFA e-mail asking for automatic monthly contributions.

 Since Howard Dean left the DFA, Jim Dean has sent out at least 13 e-mail solicitations. The e-mail sent Wednesday compares Vice President Dick Cheney to "an insecure schoolyard bully at recess" for criticizing Howard Dean.

GOLF VS. CONGRESS

 Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, the conservative choice to be the next chairman of the House International Relations Committee, hurt his chances June 8 when he missed a key committee vote by playing in a pro-am tournament at the Congressional Country Club outside Washington.

 Chairman Henry Hyde, retiring from Congress after next year, was furious that Burton missed the vote on a Democratic substitute to Hyde's United Nations reform bill. Hyde managed to defeat the proposal, 24 to 23, by losing only two Republican members.

 Burton told Hyde that he had played in the pro-am event for two decades and had informed the committee staff that his cell phone would be on vibrate to alert him if he was needed on a key vote. No call was made, and Burton said he missed his first important vote in 22 years on the committee. Burton's principal opponents for chairman are Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Christopher Smith of New Jersey.


NO DALEY CALL

 Former Commerce Secretary William Daley supports President Bush's uphill fight for Congressional approval of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) but declined a request to phone Democratic members of Congress and solicit their votes.

 Daley managed approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Chinese trade during the Clinton administration. But he said a call from a former Cabinet member could hardly counteract organized labor's pressure on Democrats to vote no. Daley agreed, however, to write an op-ed article supporting CAFTA.

 A footnote: Daley believes that CAFTA is in trouble because of intense partisanship in Washington that he said is worse than the atmosphere during the Clinton impeachment.

GOP NON-COMMUNICATIONS

 Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's creation of a new task force on communications reflects grumbling in party ranks that the Senate Republican Conference staff is losing the public relations war to the Democrats.

 Sen. Rick Santorum, the Conference chairman, faces a tough re-election campaign in Pennsylvania next year and has moved his communications ace, Robert Traynham, from the Conference to his Senate office. The Conference's vice chairman, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is concentrating on a possible GOP primary struggle for governor of Texas.

 Republican senators complain that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's "war room" has far outpaced the GOP in dealing with the public.

HOUSE GOP POLITICS

 Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the most socially liberal member of the House Republican leadership, has informed this column she has no intention of stepping down as House Republican Conference chairman (the fourth-ranking leadership position) in the next Congress, as was reported here.

 However, she has made clear her interest in becoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Her colleagues in the leadership believe she will run and be re-elected as Conference chairman and then resign that post if she wins the coveted Financial Services position.

 Pryce got in trouble with what she apparently thought were off-the-record views when she said the Conference chairmanship was about as high in the leadership as she could get, given her pro-choice leanings on abortion. That comment was interpreted as a signal she was stepping down, triggering a rush of candidates to replace her.