All About the Benjamins

Posted February 25, 2003 at 6:40pm

In a development that may make his long-shot presidential campaign even more quixotic, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has just $7,892 sitting in his House campaign account.

But the Congressman told HOH that money is starting to pour — or at least drip — into his nascent presidential bid, thanks to contributions that have been

made through his new Web site, kucinich.us.

“We’re raising $5,000 a day — it’s just starting,” vowed Kucinich. “I think we’ll raise the money we need.”

To win? “Yes. Iowa has great possibilities,” said perhaps the most fervently anti-war candidate in the race, glossing over the fact that he is currently stuck at about 2 percent in the polls.

Kucinich’s haul paled in comparison to the millions in the war chests of lawmakers like Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). But then again, “early money” didn’t exactly help then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) get very far in the 1996 presidential campaign.

“I didn’t start out with a Congressional campaign intent on becoming a presidential campaign,” Kucinich said in a shot at some of his rivals.

Kucinich added that he has signed up 1,530 volunteers through his Web site, crediting the Internet with helping to make him somewhat competitive in less than a week. “I think it’s only going to keep growing,” he said. “We’re going to take the technology and combine it with some good old-fashioned grassroots organizing.”

He took in $523,362 to his House account in the last election cycle, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.com. But he spent $518,620, leaving him with a paltry sum to launch a White House bid.

It’s worth noting that the man promising to be “the people’s president” received $242,889 of the total from political action committees, including $10,000 from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

“I’ve worked with them to defend the rights of people injured on the job or by negligence,” he said of the trial lawyers.

The guy vowing to live in a “worker’s White House” also raked in contributions from Hollywood stars like Ed Begley Jr. ($250), Jeff Bridges ($1,000) and Elliott Gould ($250).

Snow Business. If you think the Blizzard of ’03 wreaked havoc on your life, take a listen to Michael Hutton, chief of staff to House Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.).

Hutton’s wife, Nooshen, an Agriculture Department attorney, was due to give birth to a baby boy this past Monday. But the previous Monday, as snow fell in the morning, her water broke.

She had been planning natural childbirth at a maternity center in Bethesda, Md. But that now seemed out of question since the couple were visiting family near Gettysburg, Pa., as the labor pains arrived.

“This is our second child and they tend to come faster,” Hutton told HOH. “So I was a little nervous.”

As Hutton headed outdoors to take a gander, he quickly realized that they were not likely to make it to a Pennsylvania hospital — let alone one in Maryland. So he finally flagged down a truck driver with a plow, who graciously cleared the way.

The trucker called the state Department of Transportation, which quickly began plowing roads leading to the hospital. As word spread through town, folks with trucks were kindly showing up long after they were still needed.

They made it to a local hospital in the afternoon and by the early evening, young Chase was born — weighing in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces — joining his 3-year-old brother, Cole.

In contrast to the disastrous response by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D), Hutton joked, “All I can say is, thank God I was in Pennsylvania and not Washington.”

Pinned Down. Stealing a page from lawmakers, Congressional staffers are getting their own lapel pins.

The Congressional Legislative Staff Association has created special pins that they’re selling for $5 apiece to help raise money for the popular organization.

“I want to see if you can get through a magnetometer with one of those,” joked one House staffer.

Unlike the Member pins, however, these items do not allow staffers to avoid the metal-detector checkpoints around the Hill.

And it’s not clear that everyone will jump at the chance to buy the pins. As news about the pin sale has spread around the Hill by e-mail, some staffers have been offering their critiques.

While the pin looks somewhat sharp, its style is not for everyone. One anonymous staffer e-mailed to colleagues that the pins would be perfect to purchase “in case you wanted to be the biggest dork.”

But Marcus Dunn, the former president of CLSA, told HOH that about 400 of the pins have been sold already.

“It’s been difficult to keep them in stock,” he said. “It beats wearing a name tag in the District or at an embassy event.”

Media Move. Political commentator Craig Crawford has jumped from National Journal to rival Congressional Quarterly, where he will be penning a weekly column for CQ Today.

The column by Crawford, former executive publisher of NJ’s daily Hotline, will run every Monday starting next week through the 2004 national political conventions.

Crawford is also a political analyst for MSNBC and CNBC, as well as CBS News.

According to a press release from CQ, “For the past six years, Crawford has run The Hotline, a daily online political briefing published by the National Journal Group. As editor-in-chief and executive publisher, Crawford raised The Hotline’s profile and circulation over the years by shifting to publication on the Internet, expanding coverage of political TV shows, and developing video content for broadcast and cable outlets.”