Sarah Palin has “replaced the tobacco industry” as Public Enemy No. 1 in Democratic fundraising.

She’s the best-selling author of “Going Rogue,” a former VP candidate and governor of Alaska, and now Sarah Palin has a surprising new role — as the most bankable star in Democratic fundraising drives aimed at firing up the grassroots, and their checkbooks, before the 2010 midterm elections.

California’s 700,000-member progressive Courage Campaign has Palin as its marquee name in a fundraising letter that’s out this week. No wonder: with George W. Bush — the last bigname Republican that Democrats Loved to Hate — gone, the Campaign prominently stars Palin in an effort to to bulk up the coffers for..the 2010 GOP gubernatorial race in the Golden State?
That’s right, the organization’s new fundraising push lambastes GOP candidate and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman as — ouch! — “California’s Sarah Palin.” That’s a jab at Whitman’s suggestion that, if elected, she would suspend the landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, AB32 because of the economic hardship it is creating on jobs in the state. The pitch letter from the Courage Campaign’s head Rick Jacobs makes the connection like this:

“Have you heard Sarah Palin’s, er, I mean Meg Whitman’s radio ads?

“Almost every time I turn on my radio, I hear one of Meg Whitman’s “A Better California” campaign ads. Whitman — who wants to be Governor and strongly supported the McCain/Palin campaign — has just launched a huge radio ad buy across California.”

“What Whitman doesn’t say is that, when it comes to global warming, she’s another Sarah Palin….with your help, the Courage Campaign is going to produce and air a radio ad of our own, pointing out that Whitman and Palin have the same “wait and see” approach to our planet’s climate crisis.”

Jacobs isn’t the only one who knows a good thing when he sees one — at least from the progressive fundraising point of view.

We’ve received another letter today from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who also takes the Palin route in a fundraising drive for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee bid. His appeal for the checkbook:

“Think GOP obstruction is bad now? Just imagine what Washington would look like if a bunch of new senators – inspired by Sarah Palin and the tea party crowd – took over.”

“If you think this movement is more circus sideshow than actual threat, you’d be mistaken. Republican candidates are falling all over each other to get Palin’s endorsement, and the tea party movement is responding. Money is pouring in.”

“Either we match the passion and activism of these new forces in the Republican Party, or they’ll be choosing who’s sitting in the Senate, steering our country’s course. If we don’t match them dollar-for-dollar, we will lose Senate seats in 2010.”

Is the mere mention of the Palin name now serving as — as one wag called it — “political chum” to the Democrats?

Democratic strategist and former White House spokesman Chris Lehane says maybe so: “Ten percent of the country loves her and 90 percent hates her…she’s replaced the tobacco industry for the Democratic Party.”


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