During Barack Obama’s presidency, the Democratic Party has undergone a remarkable collapse on the state level, losing a net 11 governorships and majorities in 30 legislative chambers.
Tom Daschle, the Democrats’ former Senate majority leader and a critical early supporter of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, recently told the Wall Street Journal that something has to be done about this: “We have a little bit of blue in the West Coast. A little bit of blue in the Northeast, and occasional blue elsewhere. But, boy, it’s a bright red map in all of those big, square states. That’s where I do worry about recruiting and building a bench and finding ways to connect with real voters. We’re not doing a very good job of that.”
Daschle did not then add, “And that’s why I’m leaving my lucrative lobbying career in Washington, D.C. and moving back to my big, square home state of South Dakota to rebuild our party!”
Daschle was first elected by South Dakota in 1978 to the House of Representatives. He later moved to the Senate and led the Democrats there for 10 years until he was defeated in 2004. Rather than trudging the 1,400 miles back to South Dakota, Daschle instead moved one mile to the D.C. branch of the law firm Alston & Bird — where, prohibited by revolving door laws from formally becoming a lobbyist, he instead was named a “special policy adviser.” According to public records, Daschle no longer owns any property in South Dakota.
When Daschle was nominated in 2009 to be Obama’s secretary of health and human services, his financial disclosure statement showed he’d made over $5 million in the previous two years, mostly giving speeches and providing “counsel” to various business interests, including the health care industry. Daschle was later forced to withdraw because he had failed to pay taxes for many years on a car and driver provided to him for free by the founder of the private equity firm InterMedia Advisors, whose advisory board Daschle chaired.
Daschle and his wife now own a $2.2 million condominium at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., after selling their former D.C. home for $3.25 million last year. It’s a brisk walk from his offices at K Street law firm Baker Donelson. The Daschles also own a $1.3 million property in Bluffton, S.C., near the resort town of Hilton Head Island.
Among Daschle’s current clients is Taiwan, which is neither big nor square nor a state.
In addition, Daschle is chair of the think tank Center for American Progress, where Joe Biden recently proclaimed that some Democrat who’s not him should “get private money out of politics.”