CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL

By E.J. Kessler

Published April 04, 2003, issue of April 04, 2003.
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The presidential campaign of Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman is adding staff. The campaign has tapped Jay Footlik, chief liaison to the Jewish community for the Clinton White House during the mid-1990s, as its director of community outreach, a job that includes the Jewish portfolio. Also on board is Jared Ash, a young former staffer at the National Jewish Democratic Council, who is going on the road to raise funds.

Speaking of funds, the campaign is already spinning its first-quarter numbers, which spokesman Jano Cabrera told the Forward will reflect the “late start” it got because of Lieberman’s promise not to jump into the race before former vice president Al Gore decided whether he would run again. “Our numbers will be just fine but will reflect that late start,” Cabrera said. “Two-thirds of that money was raised in the month of March.”

Cabrera also blamed two other circumstances: the fact that the finance director, Sherry Yost, did not start until February and that Connecticut’s other senator, Christopher Dodd, who was mulling his own bid, did not announce his decision not to run until March 3. “We didn’t hold our first Connecticut fundraiser until March 9,” Cabrera said. The numbers, which were due at the Federal Election Commission March 31, are expected out soon.

On the lighter side, Lieberman had an interesting seatmate on a flight from Washington to New York last week. Political director Joe Eyer, who was traveling with the senator, thought the dark, attractive woman looked familiar, but couldn’t place her. Her identity — need we say why? — soon became clear, however. It was “Nanny” star Fran Drescher.

* * *

New York political consultant Hank Sheinkopf has some new digs. The scrappy veteran, who has strategized for the likes of Bill Clinton and Eliot Spitzer, recently moved his office from Soho to the East 84th Street headquarters of the American Jewish Congress, for which he is acting as public relations counsel. Sheinkopf told the Forward that he has expanded his lobbying practice and is working on two mayoral races: in Houston, the bid of Sylvester Turner, and in Birmingham, Ala., that of Carol Smitherman.

* * *

Mark and David Wellstone, sons of Minnesota’s late senator Paul Wellstone and Sheila Wellstone — who were killed last fall in a plane crash — are launching an organization to further their parents’ liberal political work. The group, Wellstone Action, will “motivate and train thousands of people around the country to be active in politics and organizing… develop a large national network of committed Wellstone supporters into an ongoing force for change [and]… continue Sheila Wellstone’s work to prevent domestic violence in the nation,” according to an e-mail message. The group’s Web site is www.wellstone.org.

* * *

Among the interesting folks who showed the flag at the Aipac banquet in Washington Monday night was Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic nod to oust Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald in 2004, whom Aipac reckons to be “highly vulnerable.” Obama told the Forward that he is being advised in his bid by Chicago-based consultant David Axelrod, known for his creative media campaigns. To be fair, a rival Democrat, Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes, also made the scene, as did Fitzgerald himself.

* * *

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich certainly has unusual dietary habits. As the Forward reported in February, the pacifist, vegan Democratic presidential hopeful, a Catholic, “likes matzo.” Kucinich also “drink[s] hot water, rather than coffee and tea,” according to George Spitz, another pacifist vegan who is Kucinich’s chief supporter in New York. Spitz told the Forward that Kucinich is aiming to resurrect the McCarthy-McGovern coalition in the Empire State with support from “peace activists, Greens, very leftist Jews, Arab Americans and students.” The 80-year-old Spitz, a perennial minor candidate for various offices, downplayed his own political skills. “I’ve run for office seven times and never won,” he said. “I would advise [Kucinich] to get somebody else to head the campaign.”






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