Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hackett Out

From the New York Times:

Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran and popular Democratic candidate in Ohio’s closely watched Senate contest, said yesterday that he was dropping out of the race and leaving politics altogether as a result of pressure from party leaders.

Mr. Hackett said Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Harry Reid of Nevada, the same party leaders who he said persuaded him last August to enter the Senate race, had pushed him to step aside so that Representative Sherrod Brown, a longtime member of Congress, could take on Senator Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent.

[…]

“This is an extremely disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on me,” said Mr. Hackett, whose announcement comes two days before the state’s filing deadline for candidates. He said he was outraged to learn that party leaders were calling his donors and asking them to stop giving and said he would not enter the Second District Congressional race.

“For me, this is a second betrayal,” Mr. Hackett said. “First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me.”

[…]

But Democratic leaders say Representative Brown, a seven-term incumbent from Avon, has a far better chance of toppling Senator DeWine.

“It boils down to who we think can pull the most votes in November against DeWine,” said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “And in Ohio, Brown’s name is golden. It’s just that simple.”

Mr. Fern added that Mr. Brown’s fund-raising abilities made him the better Senate candidate. By the end of last year, Mr. Brown had already amassed $2.37 million, 10 times what Mr. Hackett had raised.

This move has raised the hackles of some of my fellow bloggers, and on one level I agree with them; it does sound like a betrayal of a good man who ran a strong and spirited campaign against a Bush True Believer who has since proved to be an embarrassment. But I also understand the pragmatic point of view that Mr. Hackett would have probably lost the general election to DeWine; Ohio does not have a history of electing neophytes. And Mr. Hackett’s emotional reaction — to take his football and go home — shows that he cares more about his own pride than the party he belongs to. I’ve heard it said that a good soldier puts the unit ahead of the man, and this applies in the rough-and-tumble world of politics as well.