Only the Captain Goes Down With the Ship, Dr. Dean

A key leader in the Dean campaign has publicly announced that he will defect to the Kerry campaign if Dean doesn’t pull off a miracle in Wisconsin tomorrow:

The chairman of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, Massachusetts Democrat Steve Grossman, said yesterday that he will switch allegiance to the campaign of fellow Bay Stater John F. Kerry if, as Grossman expects, Dean loses tomorrow’s Wisconsin primary. … “If Howard loses the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday night, I will either reach out to the Kerry organization, they will reach out to me, or there will be a simultaneous outreach effort by both sides. And I will make a public commitment to do anything and everything I can to help John Kerry become the next president of the United States, including, but not limited to, building bridges between the two organizations so John Kerry can benefit from the strength of the Dean organization,” Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a telephone interview from Stowe, Vt., where he was skiing with his family.

One wonders how the news of Grossman’s ultimatum will somehow enhance Dean’s chances in Wisconsin, because if that’s what Grossman intended — and presumably he’s trying to get Dean elected — watching rats desert a sinking ship doesn’t inspire confidence. It’s hard to lay all of the blame on Grossman, though, when Dean himself has been saying for two weeks that everything depends on Wisconsin. The subtext of that public strategy obviously states that a significant loss in Wisconsin means the campaign is over.
And why Wisconsin? Why not Super Tuesday in two weeks instead, where more delegates are up for grabs? Simply put, it’s cheaper. Wisconsin has a primary date all to itself, allowing Dean to focus on one state and not worry about spreading himself too thin and spending money he no longer has. Unfortunately for Dean, Wisconsinites read the papers and Internet, and know that Dean rolls into their primary a severely damaged candidate.
Grossman says that Dean intends to turn his presidential campaign into a political movement in order to stay involved, converting his organization into a 527 PAC for advocacy of Dean’s positions — and maybe for a little payback, too:

Such groups are known as 527s, named for the section of the federal tax code that defines such entities. The groups are exempt from taxation so long as they are aimed at voter mobilization. They recently have come under review by the Federal Election Commission after protests that they are being used to advocate for specific candidates, in violation of a campaign finance law that took effect in November 2002.
One 527, Americans for Jobs, Health Care & Progressive Values, aired ads critical of Dean before the Iowa caucuses, including one with an image of Osama bin Laden that questioned Dean’s national security credentials.
According to Democratic Party operatives speaking on the condition of anonymity, Dean’s group — which probably would be named in consultation with his supporters — would be funded through appeals to the core of donors who helped Dean raise $41 million last year for his presidential campaign, a record for any Democrat during a primary season. Dean burned through much of that money as he sought unsuccessfully to win the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, which were then followed by 14 losses in nomination contests.

In other words, Dean wants to be the conduit for the Soros money and be a kingmaker, if he can’t be a king himself. I doubt that George Soros would be too sanguine about giving Dean a whole lot of that money, though, considering how quickly Dean burned through his commanding advantage in funding before getting through the first two states. Besides, the DNC won’t want Dean to be in the middle of fundraising efforts, sucking available donations from their nominees in the fall election for Dean’s political advocacy. Grossman understands that and is looking to get the best deal he can now while there’s still time, which is understandable, but still somewhat disloyal.
UPDATE: Howard Dean has fired Steve Grossman, so if anyone from the Kerry campaign wants to know, Solid Steve’s available for parties …

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