WASHINGTON, DC: When Rep. Michael Forbes recently switched political parties, it was a PR boon for the Democrats. But with Republican operatives vowing revenge - and an election year approaching - Forbes has juggled his communications staff to handle what promises to be a highly volatile situation.
WASHINGTON, DC: When Rep. Michael Forbes recently switched
political parties, it was a PR boon for the Democrats. But with
Republican operatives vowing revenge - and an election year approaching
- Forbes has juggled his communications staff to handle what promises to
be a highly volatile situation.
Dave Williams, currently the chief of staff to Rep. John Tierney, has
been tagged as Forbes’ new chief of staff and communications
He will formally join the Forbes team early next month.
Forbes’ decision to switch parties was motivated by his concern over the
influence wielded by Republican conservatives. In the wake of this move,
he lost his entire staff, which walked out to express disenchantment
with his political flip-flop. Forbes’ switch, however, has helped House
Democrats politically, moving the party from six to five seats away from
regaining a majority.
Williams naturally intends to use Forbes’ move as a PR play, arguing
that it demonstrates that ’there is no room within the Republican Party
for moderate, independent voices’ on issues ranging from HMO reform to
improving public education.
A former political reporter for public broadcasting stations WBUR-FM and
WGBH-TV in Boston, Williams is a veteran not only of Democratic politics
but also of the public employee labor movement. He was a key presence in
Tierney’s 1994 congressional campaign and became his chief of staff
after his 1996 reelection, in which he was said to have played a major
Williams said Forbes is banking on his record of accomplishment to be a
PR plus in his upcoming reelection bid. His theme of political
independence is likely to prove attractive to citizens in his suburban
Long Island district.
Forbes’ reelection, however, is by no means guaranteed. Several
Republicans have already thrown their hat into the race for Forbes’
seat. Opposition from within his new party is likely as well, as Tony
Bullock, former chief of staff for Sen. Patrick Moynihan, is said to be
considering a run.
Bullock has already criticized Forbes for having ’no political or moral
Republican Opponents will be scrutinizing Forbes’ past voting record to
find fodder for their own PR efforts and portray him as being
The National Republican Congressional Committee has already charged
Forbes with having abandoned his pledge of ’no new taxes.’
One area in which Forbes has been consistent over time is in his
opposition to federally funded abortions. That may prove a hot issue if
he faces a primary challenger that can receive backing from his new
party’s influential pro-abortion rights wing.