Former Kentucky Attorney General

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Former Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler, who was defeated in the governor’s race last November by Ernie Fletcher, is now running for Congress in the state’s 6th congressional district. It’s a special election and it’s being held on February 17th. Ironically, that’s the seat Fletcher had to vacate to move into the governor’s mansion.

Yesterday The Hill ran an article discussing whether, as has been rumored, Howard Dean would try to help Chandler raise money as he has, very successfully, for Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa.

The Hill quoted Chandler campaign manager Mark Nickolas thus …

“We would love their support,” Nickolas said, adding that for Democratic candidates it comes down to grassroots support to “counterbalance the Republican moneymaking machine.”

Nickolas believes that if Dean would formally ask his supporters to help Chandler, the campaign of retired Gen. Wesley Clark would follow suit.

As the article reads, <$Ad$>that mention of Clark seems to come out of nowhere.

Tomorrow, TPM has learned, Chandler will announce that he’s endorsing Wes Clark for President.

In itself, an endorsement from someone who’s not even a member of congress but just someone running for congress wouldn’t be such a big deal. (Dean has a slew of real live congressmen and congresswomen who’ve endorsed him.) But I think we can expect this to become fodder for the Dean electability/’can he win in the South’ debate for a number of reasons which we’ll discuss in future posts.

A related point.

To date, Clark has been able to benefit from the other Democratic candidates’ merciless attacks on Howard Dean (particularly on foreign policy and electability) while remaining more or less mum on Dean himself. That’s allowed Clark to have his cake and eat it too.

How long will that last?

As this article in tomorrow’s Times notes, the Dean campaign is starting to turn some fire Clark’s way.

This is where this race is going — Dean versus Clark in New Hampshire, with Dean pushing whether Clark is a real Democrat and Clark pushing foreign policy credentials and electability.

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