Over in today’s New York Sun, I have an article looking at a recent hire by the Hillary Clinton campaign, a smart guy by the name of Burns Strider. He’s best known for leading efforts at evangelical outreach among Democrats, but he also is believed to have had a hand in a tough primary campaign in Mississippi last cycle. The gist:
Strider also has recent experience helping a liberal female lawmaker quash the political aspirations of a young, up-and-coming African American in a Democratic primary. As Senator Clinton contemplates the rapidly rising star Senator Obama of Illinois and his recent interest in a presidential bid, the former first lady may wish to review Mr. Strider’s most recent experience with political hardball.
The battleground was Mississippi’s second congressional district, encompassing Jackson and rural parts of the Mississippi Delta, in the most recent election cycle. The state’s longest-serving and most influential African-American lawmaker, Rep. Bennie Thompson, had won re-election, but by a bit less than expected, in two straight cycles. A state legislator, Chuck Espy — the nephew of former congressman and Clinton administration Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy — made comments indicating interest in a primary challenge in 2006.
The tactics Thompson used against Espy are far from certain to be elements of the Clinton campaign’s playbook – Mr. Strider wasn’t interested in talking to me, which is frustrating – but it is an interesting example of how hardball tactics can keep a young, talented challenger from getting traction in a primary.