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Win Bill Frist's money
Oct 19, 2004 12:00 am
Election Day may be mere weeks away, but the race for the White House in 2008 is also being waged, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is running wide open.
Just check his check book.
Frist is following a presidential candidacy building model common to active legislative leaders and former major office holders, doling out healthy sums from a leadership PAC where most of the fundraising is channeled.
The idea is to curry favor with a broad spectrum of possible allies for a presidential race down the road.
In Frist's case, his Volunteer PAC based in Nashville has been the generous source of GOP cash, ladling out large sums to GOP Senate challengers, popular incumbents and state parties alike.
A survey of federal election commission reports through the end of September and the third quarter of the year show Frist's PAC is on track to give over $1 million during the 2003-04 campaign cycle.
Meanwhile, Frist's own campaign account has taken in a paltry $147,000 over all of 2004, a sure sign Frist will bow down from his Senate seat in 2006 as he promised when he first ran in 1994.
Frist's political contributions from his PAC also betray an eye toward a national run, with donations to the state parties in key GOP primary stops like South Carolina and Iowa.
Frist also made sure his fences are well mended in Tennessee, giving $100,000 during the current cycle to the Tennessee Republican Party.
Wide Open Spaces
Rep. Marsha Blackburn just jumped into the catbird seat if a bid to replace Frist is on her mind.
Blackburn major obstacle, fellow Congressman Zach Wamp, quietly bowed out of the race last week with a nondescript press release amid the furor and noise of a presidential election year in its final weeks.
Wamp was perceived by many in the state to have the money in the party tied up for the race, appealing to the older, business crowd that writes most of the checks to GOP candidates in the state.
Blackburn was seen as an underdog with overwhelming popularity with the grassroots of the party left over from her State Senate days fighting turncoat Republican Gov.Don Sundquist on a state income tax.
However, should Blackburn move quickly, she may become the frontrunner heading into 2005.
Standing in her way could be both Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant, the Tennessee GOP's Revolution of '94 poster children who reached for higher ground in the 2002 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races only to be outspent and outsmarted in their campaigns.
Apparently, reminding Tennessee Republicans of alleged fights from their backbench seats with the Clintonistas of the 1990s was not enough to carry a statewide bid in 2002.
It will likely be even less effective in 2006.