All Political Roads Lead Back To Bob Lanier
Cox writes about unlikely partnerships in the DC political world.
And the top one in her list of five is....the unlikely crew of current Washington power brokers (Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Mark McKinnon, Bill McInturf and Matthew Dowd) who cut their teeth on Bob Lanier's 1991 mayoral run.
Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff-designate for Obama; Mark McKinnon, former Bush ad man and McCain strategist; David Axelrod, presidential adviser-designate for Obama; Bill McInturf, Republican pollster; Matthew Dowd, former Bush strategist. This motley crew, all with major roles in recent political contests, came together as consultants drafted for the 1991 Houston mayoral race of businessman Bob Lanier. All friends still, McKinnon and Axelrod remain the closest: "There the bond developed and never broke," says McKinnon. "Although technically, neither of us live in D.C. Maybe that's why we're friends." This dream team wound up guiding Lanier to victory, a feat McKinnon still marvels at: "On paper the guy was totally unelectable." Emanuel ran opposition research--"hall of fame level," says McKinnon--and the rest of the group argued and spent Lanier's money. "Was great fun and it was a time we were all younger and most of us had more hair," says Dowd. "And the conference calls together were quite the discussion." Infighting, however, was limited, perhaps due to Lanier's instruction that the team need not argue about who would get the most credit or the biggest cut of the campaign budget: "Lanier was smoking a cigar, his size 14 cowboy boots on the desk," McKinnon remembers. "And [then he] drawled: 'Boys, just spend it till you waste it.'" There is a lesson here for Barack Obama, but I'll let Axelrod figure it out.
And the Lanier legend grows. Requisite mention of cowboy boots by national media included.
-- Richard Connelly
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