White House Throws Weight Into State Races

Some Democrat's fret about administration's increasingly partisan direction
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2009 6:15 AM CDT
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel listens as President Barack Obama speaks to reporters while meeting with his Cabinet at the White House in Washington last week.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration is becoming increasingly assertive in trying to influence state-level elections around the country, the New York Times reports. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other top political strategists have made it plain that they're willing to play hardball to strengthen the Democratic ticket where necessary—they've recruited (or discouraged) candidates in six states, including New York, where they've tried to persuade Gov. David Paterson not to run.

Some Democrats complain that the president's promises of bipartisanship now look hollow."To be seen like you are selecting winners and losers in a party-boss way will breed some resentment, and in a longer term it won’t bode well," says Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, a Democrat who ignored White House efforts to persuade him not to run against Sen. Arlen Specter. Despite Emanuel's visibility, administration officials say they don't have a single figure playing the same role as Bush political strategist Karl Rove. Rove himself has slammed efforts to nudge Paterson out as "ham-handed."