Captain's Quarters Blog

« Hamas Wins In New Unity Government | Main | Look For The Mullah Label »

February 10, 2007
Even John Edwards Can't Appease The Trial Lawyers

The Washington Post reports on an odd development in the 2008 Presidential primary race to acquire endorsements early in the cycle. The populist personal-injury attorney turned politician, John Edwards, had locked up the backing of the American Association for Justice in 2004 when he ran for President. Now, however, the litigator's group has decided to keep an open mind, and even bypassed Edwards for the keynote speech in favor of Joe Biden:

In the last presidential election, John Edwards had the powerful support and deep pockets of the nation's trial lawyers behind him. But when the lawyers gather for their winter conference today in Miami Beach, it will be Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) delivering the meeting's keynote speech.

Edwards, a trial lawyer who became a senator and now a presidential candidate, will be there, too. But the North Carolina Democrat no longer has a lock on the backing of the lawyers. This time around he will be battling it out with others in the Democratic field, who are seen as sympathetic to plaintiffs and their attorneys.

"John is certainly respected by every trial lawyer in the country," said Joseph W. Cotchett, a lawyer from the San Francisco area who helped raise more than $33,000 for Edwards in the 2004 cycle. "Many people though are looking at the bigger picture here."

Thomas V. Girardi, a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who helped raise more than $230,000 for Edwards as finance co-chairman of his 2004 bid, agreed. Girardi hosted a luncheon last month for Biden and said he intends to do the same for Edwards and for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

In the last election, Girardi said, "Senator Edwards was a much better candidate for the issues we care deeply about." Now, Edwards, Biden, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Clinton "all are very positive in terms of the philosophical view," he said. "So you have a different situation with respect to our support."

It seems strange indeed that the AAJ doesn't consider one of its own for the keynote speech, even if they have decided to hold off on an endorsement. Edwards had a successful practice as a personal-injury attorney, and he parlayed that into a single term in the Senate. Most of the people the AAJ now considers as on par with Edwards were hardly less well known than Edwards even in 2004, with the exception of Barack Obama.

And what does it say about the AAJ's attitude towards Edwards that they selected Joe Biden as their keynote speaker? Joe Biden has been in the Senate for the better part of three decades, and he has already kneecapped his 2008 campaign on the day he launched it. The only surprise that Biden could provide over his long track record as an empty suit will be if he manages to insult other ethnic groups than African-Americans and Indian-Americans who own convenience stores. Biden is a walking punch line whose candidacy is only taken seriously by Biden himself .... and apparently the AAJ.

Edwards' spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, has been kept busy this week. After the Marcotte/McEwan blogging fiasco, she had to address the snub of Edwards' own natural constituency. The Post quotes her as assuring them that Edwards will get plenty of support from trial lawyers. In 2004, he got $10 million from attorneys, impressed with the $152 million Edwards won in 63 lawsuits in the twenty-odd years before he ran for the Senate in 1998.

Now they have started looking for a better deal, noting that Edwards did next to nothing in his 4 years of semi-active work in the Senate. That, of course, will come up again and again in the primary; the only candidate with less national experience in the race is Barack Obama, and at least Obama held state office for seven years before winning the Senate seat. And the AAJ's kiss-up to Biden has less to do with the presidential race as it does with Biden's position on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- a position from which Biden can perform many favors for the AAJ and its members, especially now that the Democrats control the agenda.

Biden won't get far in this primary, but Edwards won't either if he can't even convince fellow attorneys to commit completely to him early in the primary cycle. He will find it difficult to attract the kind of money that the trial lawyers can put in his pockets -- and he's certainly not going to get Catholics to pony up the difference.

UPDATE: I know, Senators are elected for six-year terms, but Edwards stopped bothering with his day job two years before his term expired. He spent the last two running for President.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 10, 2007 8:29 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!