Wilkey, a member of House Democratic leadership, said deliberations on whether to abolish the runoff provision was not based on politics. And Richards has stayed out of the debate, Wilkey said.For a party that claims to be of the big tent, this is a bit on the embarrassing side. I am a registered Democrat but I'm also more of a moderate Democrat. For a long time, I have advocated against the infighting. If we want to take back the White House, we won't be able to if we are advocating taking out some of our own.
"I know it's hard to believe, but this is really not a decision that's being driven by the politics," Wilkey told reporters. "It really is not."
Talks have hinged on the cost factor, and whether it was fair to change the election rules during the race, Wilkey said.
Grayson, Kentucky's chief election official, said one gubernatorial candidate called him in November asking about the runoff rules. That candidate, whom Grayson would not identify, entered the race partially based on having the runoff intact, he said.
"That's part of why all along I felt like you shouldn't change the rules in the middle of the race, because I saw very clearly - at least for this particular candidate - that it made an impact in his decision-making process," Grayson said.
Franklin County Clerk Guy Zeigler said he would oppose the runoff even if the state picked up the tab. There would be little time for election officials across the state to prepare for a runoff in that amount of time, Zeigler said.
The anti-Tauscher backlash illustrates how the Democratic takeover has energized and emboldened the party's liberal base, ratcheting up the pressure on the party's moderates. That pressure is also reaching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a San Francisco liberal who recognizes that moderate voters helped sweep Democrats into the majority. Pelosi has clashed with Tauscher in the past, but she's now eager to hold together her diverse caucus and to avoid the mistakes of GOP leaders who routinely ignored their moderates.
So far, Pelosi and her leadership team seem determined to protect Tauscher and her 60 New Democrats -- up from 47 before the election. In fact, the day after Working for Us, the new progressive political action committee, targeted Tauscher, Pelosi sought her out at a caucus meeting and assured her: "I'm not going to let this happen." House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) spent 20 minutes complaining to Working for Us founder Steve Rosenthal, who swiftly removed the hit list of "Worst Offenders" from the group's Web site.
Said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly: "We want to protect our incumbents. That's what we're about."