With most polls showing Denny Rehberg trailing Jon Tester by a point or two, or even at best, Rehberg has turned to his old hired hand Erik Iverson to try to turn the campaign around.
Iverson will have to work to erase the damage from a string of recent gaffes by Rehberg, such as telling an audience member at a town hall meeting that he (Rehberg) and his wife are “cash poor,” (when, in fact, Rehberg and his wife own $56 million of real estate, stocks and cash, and his income alone from these investments, along with his congressional salary, averages nearly half a million a year.)
Rehberg’s comment came in response to an audience member suggesting to the congressman that perhaps the congressman would have a different opinion of health reform if he were someone who struggled financially, and were too strapped for cash to be able to afford to see a doctor. Iverson’s job, presumably, will be to keep Rehberg away from town hall meetings.
There are the other issues. A few months ago Rehberg admitted on camera that he didn’t know what the minimum wage was in Montana; a large taxpayer tab in relation to the Flathead Lake boat-wreck will at some point be disclosed; there is the little problem of Rehberg having voted to require Americans to carry federal ID cards; and there is the not-so-little problem of Rehberg not being able to point to a single thing he’s ever done to help Montana.
So Iverson will have his hands full. But Iverson also comes with baggage of his own.
He had a rocky relationship with right-wing conservatives when he served simultaneously as GOP chair and Rehberg’s chief-of-staff. In fact, Iverson may well have been been ousted as chairman by the Koopman-Sinrud wing-nut faction of the GOP, which went after both Iverson and Rehberg when Denny gave Iverson a taxpayer-funded, $31,000 pay-raise. This pay-raise brought Iverson’s salary to $159,828 a year, making him the highest paid staffer in Congress even though he was a relatively young and inexperienced politico.
Iverson’s paws were also on the shameful episode in which the GOP deployed operatives to places like Butte and Missoula, where they used an arcane legal maneuver to block several thousand lawfully registered voters from being able to cast their vote on election day. Turned out that many of these citizens were fighting in Iraq. In the wake of that episode, Iverson and his underling Jake Eaton both fled the state for other employment.
But now he’s back. One thing is for sure: Iverson has done well by Denny. Over the last few years, Rehberg has funneled to Iverson a small fortune from his campaign war chest.
We will see if Iverson is worth it.
Also, as a good tipster has pointed out to this blog, this video show that if nothing else, Iverson at least knows the score.