Obama tries to shape the Senate

By David Talbot
October 20, 2004 12:09AM (UTC)
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Rising Democratic Party star Barack Obama has some extra time on his hands these days.

So far ahead is Obama in the U.S. Senate race in Illinois, with his madman in the attic opponent Alan Keyes lagging by 45 points in the polls, that Obama has begun actively working for other Democratic Senate candidates. On Tuesday, Obama teamed up with MoveOn to solicit support for Democrats in four key races and help wrest control of the Senate from the GOP. In a mass e-mail to MoveOn members, Obama highlighted the Kentucky race, where -- following press reports in Salon and other publications on the erratic behavior of Republican candidate Jim Bunning -- the Democratic contender, Dr. Dan Mongiardo, has come "from out of nowhere" to pull even in the polls. The suddenly surging Mongiardo campaign, written off as a lost cause just weeks ago, is now in urgent need of a cash infusion, which is why Obama is urging people to go to the MoveOn site to contribute.


Last Thursday, Obama asked MoveOn members to support three other Democratic Senate hopefuls Inez Tenenbaum in South Carolina, Ken Salazar in Colorado, and Joe Hoeffel in Pennsylvania and they responded by showering the trio with more than a half million dollars in three days. "It's an amazing result, and I'm inspired and blown away by your generosity," wrote Obama. "Now, with the deadline approaching fast, we have an opportunity to put a few more good people over the top."

If Obama's appeals help tip control of the Senate in November, he will arrive in Washington next year as the most popular newcomer in the party.

David Talbot

David Talbot, the founder of Salon, is the author of New York Times bestsellers like "Brothers," "The Devil's Chessboard," and "Season of the Witch." His most recent book is "Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke."

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