With Obamacare likely to remain front and center in the political debate going into 2012, the GOP could find itself in a real bind attacking it if a former Pfizer lobbyist who helped push Obamacare, Maria Cino, ends up heading up the RNC after the January elections.
Unfortunately, the establishment-backed candidate to presumably replace current RNC Chair Michael Steele, Maria Cino, opted out of a recent grassroots-focused political event for the candidates. The FreedomWorks and conservative caucus sponsored event was reported on at Big Government on November 2nd. Chris Stirewalt pointed out her absence as well, via FoxNews.
Worse, Stirewalt’s item is primarily focused on how establishment money is driving the race behind the scenes and Cino’s Mary Matalin-hosted fund raiser tonight is only one of Cino’s links to it. Her lobbying for Obamacare on behalf of Pfizer and a $1,000 donation to Mike Castle during Delaware’s contentious GOP primary may prove to be deal breakers for members of the GOP grassroots hoping that the GOP might turn the page on the same old, same old way of doing business in Washington that brought us Obamacare and has left America with staggering debt.
Maria Cino, former RNC deputy chairwoman, Bush administration official and executive director of the GOP’s House campaign arm, didn’t show for the debate. But she was able to tout the support of former Vice President Dick Cheney and others who will host a fundraiser for Cino’s bid at the home of Mary Matalin next week.
But why bother raising big bucks for an election where there are only 168 voters?
“This is a decision that rests with the party chairmen and national committeemen, and they’re not going to be swayed by any campaign,” said one influential Cino backer. “It’s not about the spending, it’s about the fundraising. This is a way to show what Maria brings to the table: fundraising ability and organizational skills. Those happen to be the things that the committee is most in need of right now.”
In fact, Cino was recently noted as one of the old GOP’s resurgent up and comers when it comes to corporate money driving political decisions in Washington.
To be fair, the RNC needs someone who can span the establishment and the grassroots, keeping Tea Party-aligned activists on board and, at the same time, raising serious sums of money from major GOP donors. Unfortunately, when it comes to spanning that gap, Maria Cino may well prove to be a bridge too far.
GOP lobbyists on rise again
The buzz around this Pfizer lobbyist is that she could run to become the next chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. But if she stays on K Street, Republicans believe she’ll go far.
A former national political director for Bush’s campaign and former RNC deputy chair, she served in Bush’s administration as a deputy secretary of transportation. And she is longtime buddies with Boehner chief of staff Barry Jackson and close to Boehner himself. In fact, some insiders have said Cino has the support of Boehner for the RNC’s top job. But a Boehner spokesman recently knocked the rumor down, saying that Cino is a “good friend” but doesn’t have his “immediate endorsement.”
In what the Wall Street Journal reported as “Pfizer’s bad political bet,” the pharmaceutical industry struck an 80 billion dollar deal with the devil and liberal activists to give America Obamacare, provided it had certain provisions seen as favorable to their industry. And while recently resigned Pfizer CEO Kindler gathered some notables to give advice, records demonstrate that Cino was one of only 7 prominent lobbyists driving the ground game behind the scenes. Somehow, I’m not certain this is the type of change the Tea Party envisioned for the GOP. A simple search for Cino lobbying and Pfizer will yield more than enough detail to perhaps give many in the grassroots pause over her possible election to chair the RNC, assuming Steele is eventually replaced.
Already known as a Democrat and political junkie, Mr. Kindler was primed for the Obama ascendancy. Like many big CEOs, he started playing footsie with groups that had long despised business but would now have the president’s ear. Pfizer quietly created a board of “notables” to advise it on policy. A top recruit: Andy Stern, fiery head of the Service Employees International Union. (It also includes Newt Gingrich.)