Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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Advice for Carly: Ask for Senate Finance

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Should Carly Fiorina (left) ask for a Senate Finance Committee seat?

Let’s assume, for a moment, that you’re Carly Fiorina.

Let’s also assume that you woke up on Wednesday morning, a little weary but a lot fired-up only a few hours after a bigger-than-expected win in the California senatorial primary, only to find your cell-phone full of voice mails, your Blackberry inbox about to burst and your call-back list ever-growing.

And what all that attention? Much of it’s congratulations — and much of it’s unsolicited (maybe unwanted) advice.

I’m going to add to that latter chorus with a suggestion of my own for the Fiorina campaign: take this moment, and this window of enhanced stature, and hot-foot it back east — straight to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.

Why McConnell? According to Roll Call,McConnell’s already guaranteed a seat on the Senate Appropriations and Energy and Natural Resources committees to North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven should he win his Senate race this fall (pretty much a certainty). It plays well with the folks back home, who want to make sure that North Dakota doesn’t go unnoticed in future Senate, now that it’s about longtime insider Byron Dorgan.

California’s no different, especially if a theme of the Senate race is whether Boxer is pulling her weight in Washington.

So if McConnell is handing out favors, Fiorina should make sure her intentions are well-known, and not wait until after the election and jockey with the other freshman senators for privileged status. Specifically, she should ask for a seat on the Senate Finance Committee, which will have at least one GOP vacancy next January thanks to the retirement of Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning.

So why that committee? As a friend of mine back east points out, Finance is a “much heftier assignment directly tied to the economy . . . taxes policy, technology, health care, international trade and customs, all things finance — e.g., infrastructure financing, Social Security.” In other words: all good campaign topics.

Second, a Finance promise won’t go unnoticed by the Washington donor crowd — and Fiorina has to do a lot of fundraising in a short period to make up ground on Sen. Barbara Boxer and her hefty campaign war chest.

Besides, there’s the balance of power argument: six Californians (four Democrats, two Republicans) sit on the House Ways & Means Committee. What of the Senate?

BTW, a little Internet sleuthing reveals that a Californian has never chaired the Senate Finance Committee. Anyone care to guess the last California senator who served as a committee member?

And this suggestion to Team Fiorina: when asked about what committee assignments interest your boss, stay away from Appropriations and Intelligence. DiFi’s already got those covered.

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Written by Bill Whalen

June 10, 2010 at 7:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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