Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and the leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have clashed angrily in recent days in a dispute about how the party should spend its money in advance of this fall’s midterm elections.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is leading the party’s effort to regain majority status in the House, stormed out of Dean’s office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session.
The blowup highlights a long-standing tension that has pitted Democratic congressional leaders, who are focused on their best opportunities for electoral gains this fall, against Dean and many state party chairmen, who believe that the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up — even in states that have traditionally been Republican strongholds.
Emanuel’s fury, Democratic officials said, was over his concern that Dean’s DNC is spending its money too freely and too early in the election cycle — a “burn rate” that some strategists fear will leave the party unable to help candidates compete on equal terms with Republicans this fall.
Emanuel declined to talk about his meeting with Dean but was blunt about his concern that the DNC is not managing its resources wisely.
“This is a historic opportunity, and we can’t squander it,” Emanuel said.
Although Dean has proved to be a more impressive fundraiser than some skeptical Democrats once thought — the DNC has taken in $74 million since the start of this election cycle in 2005 — he has also been a prolific spender. Disclosure forms for the first quarter of this year showed the party with about $10 million in cash on hand. The Republican National Committee, by contrast, has raised just under $142 million this cycle and has about $43 million on hand.
Many Washington Democrats think Dean is unwise to spend on field organizers and other staff in states where House and Senate candidates have little chance of winning. Dean has maintained that the party cannot strengthen itself over the long haul unless it competes everywhere.
Hat tip: Betsy Newmark
On a related note, Lorie Byrd from Polipundit has an opinion piece up at Townhall.com that discusses what a Democratic Congress would look like. Thomas Bray at Real Clear Politics sounds off on a similar note.
PM Update: Dean’s woes continue as the National Gay And Lesbian Task Force denounces him for a supposed ‘misrepresentation’ of the DNC’s platform. Oops.
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