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Harold Ford, Jr. is once again in the spotlight, and once again is the target of ire and hatred from the liberal blogosphere.  Talk is all over the place about how Ford lost because he insisted on appealing to the conservatives in TN instead of his own liberal base.  Has he done anything since he conceded?  Not that I'm aware of, but now that his name is being thrown around to replace Dean as chair of the DNC (which is ridiculous on many levels), it seems to be an appropriate time to throw stones at him again.

Now, before anyone starts throwing stones at me, I would like to say this: yes, I think Ford would be a great asset for the DNC.  That being said, on a good day, Ford would be ¼ the asset that Dean is.  That doesn't mean we should start kicking Ford while he's down- the bad guy here is Carville, not a former candidate for Senate.  So be mad at Carville.  Let him be the next Lieberman (our favorite punching bag the greater part of this year).  In the meantime, we need to really look at what happened in Tennessee, to prevent anyone else from jumping to the wrong conclusions.

In 2008, we are going to pick somebody to run for president...and we are also going to have to pick a Democrat from Tennessee to oppose Lamar Alexander who will be seeking his second term as Senator.  I intend for this person to win.  So I've dissected the exit polls from 2006 to try and figure out what can be done to win a majority of votes for a Democratic candidate in a Republican state.

Here are some numbers to think about:
Tennessee is 15% Liberal, 40% Moderate, 45% Conservative.
Ford won 89% of the Liberal vote, 63% of the Moderate vote, and 19% of the Conservative vote.
So, from what I've heard, a lot of people are thinking that if only Ford has picked up the rest of the Liberal vote (that 11% of 15% of voters) instead of aiming for that block of voters three times in size (getting 19% of 45% of the vote) he would have won.
That's just flat wrong, sorry.
(Need I remind anyone that the gay marriage ban won 80-20%.  Any candidate making a pro-gay marriage stance would be dead and buried at the starting line.)

Here are some clearer numbers:

The racial numbers shouldn't surprise anyone.  Ford captured 95% of the black vote, and 40% of the white vote.  Considering some of the comments made here, that seems like a lot of white rednecks who don't mind voting for a black guy.

Not a lot to be said about that.

Those people who made less than $50,000 per year, voted for Ford 57-42.
Those people who made more than $50,000 per year, voted for Corker 57-42.
That's not a typo- the divide is that precise.

So, in order to win Tennessee based on these numbers, we would either need to 1) make more poor people, or 2) try to win some wealthier voters.

Here are some more numbers:

Ford captured the 18-29 demographic 51-49%.  He also carried the 60+ demographic 53-47%.  Corker carried the 30-44 demographic 54-44%, and the 45-59 demographic 55-44%.

So, in order to win Tennessee based on those numbers, we would either need to 1) encourage more young and old voters to vote, 2) wait for the rest of the boomers to reach retirement age.

The education numbers are the ones that are most puzzling:

Ford carried the voters with no High School education 66-32%.  He also carried those with High School only 53-46.  Corker carried both the Some College and College Graduate demographics...but Ford comes back to capture the Postgraduate demographic 52-48.  So...what is it about people with advanced degrees that make them more likely to vote for Ford?  I'm stuck here.

Coming into this race, a lot of people were saying that the rural voters would decide not only who wins this race, but who will win Congress.  It held up here.

Ford lost the suburban vote 39-60%.  White suburbia may always trend Republican, even if running a white Democrat.  He captured the Urban vote 54-45%.  But he lost the rural vote (which is about 40% of Tennessee) 52-47%.  White suburbia may always trend Republican.  However, if a good ol' country boy candidate can avoid losing the urban vote, he might have a chance.

From these numbers, the best I can tell is that in order for a Democrat to win a statewide election, he or she will need to capture either more white voters, more wealthy voters, more middle-aged suburban voters, or more conservative voters.  Some of you have probably already realized that these four groups are actually one and the same.  These are the voters we need to reach- conservative, white, upper-middle class, college graduates.  Or the racist rednecks in the boonies, whichever is easier.

How does running a more liberal candidate help here?

Here's what I'm saying: I will be here in 2008, writing about how I'm volunteering for the Democratic nominee for the Senate.  This nominee will be conservative.  He or she will be pro-life and anti-gay marriage.  He or she will not be a fan favorite here at DailyKos.  But I will do what I can to get this person elected, because I still believe that any Democrat is better for the country than any wingnut neoconservative.

Originally posted to Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:48 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips, flames (12+ / 0-)

    If anyone has any recommendations for who to run in '08, I'm all ears.

    There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

    by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:45:09 PM PST

    •  Jim Cooper (0+ / 0-)

      Experienced, even-handed, and very well-respected by his peers and the press.  Oh, and Cooper's very smart.

      Not as liberal as we'd like him to be, but strongly critical of the Bush (mis)Administration.

      Plus, unlike Harold Ford Jr., Cooper's mature, he's not dismissive of liberal viewpoints, and has respected progressives and the grassroots - even when he disagrees with them.

      •  I like Cooper a lot (0+ / 0-)

        He was the only one of nine Representatives from TN (5 Dem, 4 GOP) to vote against the torture bill.  That takes stones.  And he was re-elected easily.
        I'd love for him to run for Senate.  I don't know if he will.  Of course he's not as liberal as we'd like him to be- if we wanted a liberal, I'd run myself.  But I'd lose.

        There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

        by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:07:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Postgrads always vote more (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pb, liberal atheist

    liberal than their bachelor's degree counterparts, on average.

    A lot of it is (1) professors and (2) others who have advanced degrees because they love the material and not because of money.

    "Yeah. But I think once you become a Republican, your nuts shrink and you never score." -Butthead to Beavis

    by BlueEngineerInOhio on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:47:35 PM PST

  •  Don't give up (0+ / 0-)

    This nominee will be conservative.  He or she will be pro-life and anti-gay marriage.  He or she will not be a fan favorite here at DailyKos.

    While this is likely the TN-Sen '08 nominee will hold all these stance, it isn't a certainty. Which Democrats in Tennessee would you champion to run against Lamar Alexander?

    I know its very difficult to campaign on behalf of a candidate who doesn't completely share your views, but maybe TN Dems can recruit one who is a little more friendly to Progressives and liberal ideals?

    •  The frontrunners are (0+ / 0-)

      Lincoln Davis
      Harold Ford Jr.
      Rosalind Kurita

      Kurita is the most liberal (not saying she is a liberal, just the most liberal).
      For that reason she is probably the underdog.

      There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

      by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:54:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The only one in that bunch that could win... (0+ / 0-)

        is Bredesen.  I personally think that this seat, not the White House, is what Bredesen is planning for after his term expires.

        Second best chance: Kurita.  Why?  She'd drive women's turnout up - a demo that TN Dems haven't come close to maxxing out on yet.  Roz is good on guns, she doesn't pull punches, has cred on healthcare issues (she's a nurse).  She has this whole Ann Richards thing going on too that I think would work in the rural counties.

        Ford?  Short of Lamar pulling a Foley, forget it.  Lamar would eat Junior's lunch.

        Lincoln Davis?  God help us all.  He'll make Bob Clement look like a Rhodes Scholar.

      •  Oh and you left someone off your list... (0+ / 0-)

        Bart Gordon would be a formidable candidate against Lamar.  

        His district, reliably Republican, continues to re-elect him.  On Tuesday, he won with 67% of the vote - far more than Junior got there.

        •  He's not going to run (0+ / 0-)

          He's about to chair the Committee on Science, something he's wanted to do for a decade.
          No way he only does that for two years.
          Plus, if he leaves the district, he will probably be replaced by a republican.

          There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

          by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:30:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The final answer is (0+ / 0-)

    There is no one answer, not to what happened in TN, or to the issues that face us. Having Ford in the Senate would have been great for America, despite his gay rights stance.

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

    by Grant Caesar Peters on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:53:47 PM PST

  •  Alexander would be tough to beat (0+ / 0-)

    He's been winning statewide elections since 1980 -- twice for governor, and once for Senator. We can hope, perhaps, that he decides he doesn't like being in the minority, and instead chooses to retire.

    Do we know yet if he'll run?

    •  We don't know (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peraspera, Magnifico, Positronicus

      And that's the million dollar question.
      Ford could run again in 08.  If he runs against Lamar, he'll probably lose again.  If he runs against an open seat, he'll probably win, because there are almost zero possible candidates from TN.  None of the republican challengers got more than 40% of the vote, in any of the five House of Rep races or the Governor's.  They just aren't there.  Lamar might be the only chance the GOP has...which might be why they're offering him such a high post (whip) for a fifth-year senator.

      There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

      by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:56:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Probably depends if he gets the minority whip job (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If so, he obviously runs again.
      If he gets passed by for the job, I suspect he'll look for greener pastures outside of being in the Senate minority.

      He's up again Lott for whip. And Lott is an experienced SOB streetfighter to be against.

      from TPM:

      Senate Minority Whip

      Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is claiming that he has enough votes sewn up to take the position, but formerly ousted Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) has also been lobbying hard for the position.

      Alexander represents the wing of the party that believes the GOP lost the election because they drifted from their core small government principles. "We've (Republicans) drifted from our core values," Alexander told the Associated Press. "We haven't gotten control on entitlement spending. We've forgotten that we're opposed to the idea of Washington knows best." Lott, who was forced to step down as Majority Leader after speaking nostalgicly of Strum Thurmond's run for President on a segregationist ticket, is likely to make nostalgic noises about restoring Reagan-era conservatism, as he blames the current leadership's abandonment of conservative values for the party's poor electoral showing.

    •  He could end up the Pres nominee (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Not through the Primaries, but in the event of a deadlocked Convention, Lamar would be an acceptable compromise to all the Republican factions.

      51,245 votes for US Senator.

      by ben masel on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:12:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your comments/analysis are reasonable... (0+ / 0-)

    ...and perfectly in line with what to expect from Teneessee, given my limited experience (relatives in the Smokies, friends in the greater Memphis area).

    I couldn't bring myself to financially support Ford because I was very concerned that he would be a Lieberman Democrat rather than a Nelson Democrat, but I very much admired the quality and precision of his campaign, and said so publically.  I made a point of not beating up on him because Tennessee isn't the same state as Washington, where I live.

    That said, I have to wonder if Ford could have done any better than he did, if his race is always going to be the problem he can't surmount.  Lord knows he busted his butt to rise above it, and in large part I thought at one point he might succeeed.  But he didn't.

    So, right now Carville wants to use Ford as a catspaw.  Stupid Carville.  Not stupid Ford.  But I do wonder whether Corker would be a better choice for running in the next Senate race, and what next office Ford should run for within the state.

    "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

    by Palamedes on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:58:24 PM PST

  •  I really hate to say this, but there is Racism... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pb, liberal atheist

    I grew up in Alabama, and know a lot about racism, in all of it's subtle ways.  If Harold Ford had been a white candidate with the charisma that he possesses, he would have won by several points here.  Tennessee and many of the areas of the "old South" continue to have a large number of racist people. You can't ask a poll question about it, but when you see it, you know that you have seen it.  

    Look at the numbers in Virginia closely and you will see the same.  In almost all areas outside of the DC metro area, Webb lost by a huge amount. The only thing about Virginia is that it has a very large population that is part of metro Washington, which is a large city.  Tennessee is full of smaller cities, which don't normally trend as Democratic or Liberal as very large cities & suburbs thereof do.  That is how Webb won by 7,000 votes, in addition that he was a white man with military experience & prior Republican experience.

    I watched Harold Ford's campaign closely & saw his concession speach on Tuesday night.  What a shame.  This man has is 35 years old and has the charisma and natural raw political talent of Bill Clinton, and he is only 35.  I'm positive he will serve our country in a very important way, I just don't know how yet.  He deserved better, and I have to believe he will get better.  We just need to be patient, he is only 35 years old and there are a lot of winning races still to come in his political career.

    If some of you think racism wasn't involved, I would like to hear a better explanation, considering that he ran a great campaign.  I realize the confrontation with Corker wasn't the best political move, but you know what, in this race it shouldn't have been the deciding factor.

    If Bill was still in charge, this wouldn't all be happening...

    by letsbepragmatic on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 05:59:37 PM PST

  •  Well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The reality is that TN is not San Francisco. A NYC or San Francisco Democrat is not going to win in TN. In watching the returns on election night I noticed that Corker won only 53% in Hamilton County. I noticed that Ford ran ahead of Bob Clement in Eastern TN.

    I think that the other reason Ford lost was because he didn't have high enough turnout in Shelby, Davidson, and the other Democratic counties. Had he managed to increase turnout there by 5% he might have won. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 06:05:37 PM PST

    •  Increased turnout (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pb, Woody, liberal atheist

      The wait in Nashville was about four hours.
      The wait in Memphis was 2-3 hours.
      Had there been more than two voting booths per precinct in Nashville, this might not have been a problem.
      That's right, two booths per precinct.
      I don't know who's fault that is, but they should be sacked.

      There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

      by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 06:07:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tennessee is NOT 45% conservative (0+ / 0-)

    I'm so sick of this. Based on what?

    If you want to concede a state to be 3 times as more conservative than liberal when the ISSUES (yes ISSUES) say otherwise, you are ensuring we lose before we even begin.


    •  Check the link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The exit poll says 45% conservative.
      Any other pre-election poll that gave this as a crosstab said about 45%.
      The issues say otherwise? Like what?
      Gay marriage ban passed 80-20, or 4 times more conservative.
      I'm not really sure what evidence you have that is contrary to numerous polls.

      There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

      by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 06:09:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  gay marriage is 1 issue (0+ / 0-)

        What about the minimum wage?
        stem cell research?
        jail for an abortion?
        trade agreements?
        doctors or HMO bureaucrats in charge of health care?
        environmental protections?

        Do you think (your opinion) that more people agree with the liberal or conservative position on these issues?

        •  In order (0+ / 0-)


          conservative conservative


          Most voters in TN don't get the link between politicians and the last three issues you listed.  Most of them stick with the ones they hear about in church- abortions, stem cells (which is just a fancy word for abortion, I hear), and homosexuals.

          If you're asking how I agree, it's liberal all the way.  But for most of the state, it's all or mostly conservative on the issues.

          There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

          by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 06:25:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hey Sid, I got somethin' for ya... (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know if you've taken a look at the MTSU Poll yet, but you should.

            It paints a somewhat different picture of Tennesseans than your assessment.  Not entirely different - you nail some of it on the social issues - but still, you'll see that Tennesseans aren't as right-wing as you think.

            It's good reading.  I'm curious to know your take on it...

            •  Looks pretty consistent (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              That's a long damn poll.  Glad they didn't call me, I'd be pissed.
              They've got 35% conservative, 5% right wing, so I'll add that up to 40% conservative.
              15% said liberal or far left (about the same) and 35% said moderate ("middle of the road")...which leaves about 10% that don't know or refused to answer.

              I'm surprised that 50% of people said Iraq was a mistake, and yet 57% support military action against Iran if they continue their nuclear ambitions.

              I'm really surprised that 70% of the people said it should be a crime to speak out against the president.

              I'm really curious what the "other" category is when people were asked what the number one problem facing the state is.  The options were: health insurance/health services, education, economy, crime, taxes, gov't corruption, gov't waste/inefficiency, other, refused, and don't know.  Other won with 27%.  Second was health care.  Even still, I don't think those people associate health care as being a problem with doctors or HMO's being in charge of health care.  They don't understand where the high costs come from.

              Is that what you got out of it?

              There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

              by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:43:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

                I was less interested in what political ideology people defined themselves as because that is just too subjective to mean anything we can really study in relation to election results.

                What I really get into with the MTSU Polls are how people rank issues and priorities.  If you really take a look at the results, you see that Tennesseans are, in fact, fairly progressive when it comes to what they want from the government.  These are not anti-government libertarians like what you see in Deep South states.  These people want access to affordable healthcare, good public schools, clean water and air, good paying jobs.  Things that most Americans - including progressives - want.  Where the disconnect happens is when you start looking at whether Tennesseans are ready to pay more taxes to get those things.  But even then, they don't flat out say "no".  Low taxes are not their top priority.

                It's just interesting is all.  If you've read these findings over the past few years, you see that Tennesseans could be very receptive to populist progressive candidates.  It's the social issues that you lose them on.  But we really don't get those kind of Democrats here anymore.  What we get are pro-corporate DLC Democrats like Phil Bredesen, Bart Gordon, Jim Cooper, and Harold Ford who may or may not be pro-choice, but are most certainly anti-tax.  Even though Tennesseans do not consider low taxes to be the litmus test for elected office.

                There is a formula to winning in there and the right Democrat needs to stumble on it soon...

          •  Maybe he was just a Youngster (0+ / 0-)

            Ford is only 35, and he looked awfully wet behind the ears on TV.  Maybe that was some of the problem.  As for getting white, upper-middle class college grads, I think that's a tough one.  If they are Republican, they probably go to the mega-churches and know just enough from their education to be over-confident about their knowlege level, so they have a pretty ossifed world view.

            Since the boys out in the boonies actually get screwed over by big business and corporate intrests the most, I would say to chase the rural votes.  There is the question of is Ford too much of a career politician, but if he gets himself on some sort of rural board or gets involved in some rural policy issues, he could get enough votes out there.  Maybe something TVA related (or a new TVA type issue for the 21st Century).

            But the best option?  He should open up a chain of BBQ stands in small town areas, and also have a sort of fleet of BBQ trucks, where he could smoke the meat all day in his stands, then take it out to fairs, fishing areas, etc. to sell on the weekends.  That way, he could visit his BBQ empire and press the flesh...over authentic Tennessse BBQ.  Maybe even give out some freebies.  There's your surefire way to win the vote.  Plus, if you attack Ford, you attack Tennessee BBQ.

            The only danger there is if you don't do it right.  Better get a good recipe...

            •  I agree with your second paragraph... (0+ / 0-)

              Not that I disagree with the other two, exactly, just that this is the one I wanted to follow up.
              I agree that we need to target the rural vote.  Ford knew that too, and he tried, he spent two months bussing around rural districts talking to people.  The problem was, I think, that no matter how much he talks, the ads that told everybody he was a career politician from Memphis and Washington DC turned off the rural voters.  They don't like city boys, and Ford is definately a city boy.

              There are atheists in foxholes. But there are no Evangelicals.

              by Sidof79 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:33:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Democratic BBQ chains are the key to the south (0+ / 0-)

                Dems seem to represent urbanites and blacks to the south.  So we need to connect with the rural folks.  Through an excellent pulled pork sandwich!  Because even a racist southern will appreciate fine bbq, even if from someone like Ford.

  •  When you break the electorate (0+ / 0-)

    as liberal, moderate, and conservative, you omit libertarians, or lump them with conservatives.

    The capital L Libertarians I know in Memphis went for Cohen and Corker, willing to swallow liberal economic policies this year, but not when packaged with the Patriot Act and Drugwar fascism.

    51,245 votes for US Senator.

    by ben masel on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:07:17 PM PST

    •  or... (0+ / 0-)

      They omit themselves, or classify themselves--remember, this is all self-identified. Hence, consider the breakdown as libertarians who lean liberal, don't lean either way, lean conservative, or other/don't know.

      •  Drawing conclusions from badly drawn polls (0+ / 0-)

        is folly.

        51,245 votes for US Senator.

        by ben masel on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:24:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  indeed. (0+ / 0-)

          However, I don't think it's necessarily 'badly drawn'--they probably left 'libertarian' off because the actual percentage of self-identified libertarians is generally pretty small:

          While the test identified 16% of the voting population as libertarian, only 2% of the respondents identified themselves with that label when given a chance.
          Portrait of America conducted this national telephone survey of 822 likely voters on August 23, 2000. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

  •  Factors (0+ / 0-)

    A person who just seems 'conservative' enough personally, has less need to prove that, and so is able to do less bashing of their less 'conservative' base voters; that's the only point the other diary was making
    But you may be right that even had the base been handled better, not clear he would have won this one
    You can never tell, and if Corker had a few more or bigger scandals, who knows

    The blend of personal earthiness and populism appealing to 'conservatives' and progressive positions on many/most major issues appealing to base, was the key in winning various races in red states

    Actually, a Lamar Alexander-like person in terms of personal traits, is a reasonable model
    I think it can be a black, a latino, don't rule that out, but it's more where the person's style and their background just seem really solid to rural and 'conservative' people

    When you're track record is mostly in politics, you're young, there is some whiff of privilege,  there's some history of changed positions, or just a lot of new positions, there are some lifestyle choices that suggest partying with the elite or whatever, then all these things can be played against you
    If you're non-white in those areas, it probably just is a multiplier of the spin

    Ford isn't terrible or a loser or a total jerk, but it would have been a very hard race to win, and he would probably do better in terms of career building with a high-profile post in DC, NYC or with some large organization
    Not that this justifies Carville's comment, screwing with Dean, that's a separate issue

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