Politico: Weiland pick spurs Daschle-Reid ‘feud’

Lone Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland is “not my choice,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Politico, in a surprisingly blunt statement of national Democrats’ preference for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Reid also dismissed Weiland, saying “we’re going to have a candidate there; we don’t have it yet.”

The Politico story adds Reid’s quotes and some anonymous sourcing to my report from Sunday looking into how Weiland got into the race, Tom Daschle’s role in that and the skepticism Weiland is facing as he tries to build up a Senate bid.

It also adds a juicy feud angle, talking to anonymous Democrats who say Reid is furious at Daschle for encouraging Weiland to run:

Daschle’s endorsement of Weiland helped persuade Herseth Sandlin to pass on the Senate race, according to Democratic sources close to the issue. Reid and top Senate Democrats were stunned and outraged by Daschle’s move, a sentiment Reid communicated directly to the former senator, according to several people familiar with the incident.

The first assertion there, that Weiland’s endorsement helped keep Herseth Sandlin out, is something I had heard rumored, too. People in both the Weiland camp and the Herseth Sandlin camp were skeptical when I asked them about it, with one Herseth Sandlin ally saying “If she felt the right thing to do was to run, she would have been 100 percent in there.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean the anonymous information I and Politico both heard is wrong; just take both conflicting reports into consideration.

Other revelations in the Politico report:

  • Daschle was defensive of his support for Weiland, noting their decades-long friendship and pointing out that Herseth Sandlin was never committed to the race, merely exploring it.
  • A national Democrat suggests the DSCC won’t mobilize resources for Weiland after his role in allegedly pushing Herseth Sandlin out of the race. “This is [Daschle’s] race,” the anonymous Democrat said. “If he wants to encourage someone to get in, if he wants to endorse someone to get in, he should be prepared to raise all the money necessary to support them.”
  • Reid is apparently taking Daschle’s endorsement as a personal slight between the two longtime colleagues; Daschle is downplaying it and says he’s still planning to host a DSCC fundraiser.
  • As rumored, the story confirms that Reid met with Tim Johnson and his wife Barbara to urge them to keep their son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, out of the race. (The Politico story also gets Barbara’s name wrong, referring to her as “Martha.”)

Read the full story here.