But presidential candidates that start with large warchests of cash have a expotential advantage over their poorer bretheren. One reason that George Bush was the Republican candidate in 2000 was because he had a direct pipeline to mainstream Republican donors. He could use that early cash to raise name awareness (though it hardly seemed necessary in his case) and prime the pump for the serious fundraising needed for the long slog to the convention.
With the culture so media-connected, candidates have to hit big early. (Kids today don't remember that Robert Kennedy didn't enter into the 1968 Democratic primary until mid-March, after sitting president LBJ had made a poor showing in the New Hampshire primaries.) Every twitch from the buildup leading to the Iowa caucases to Super Tuesday is relentlessly examined, spun, and respun. Candidates that can't fund media buys in the early markets are left as footnotes in civics textbooks.
New York Republicans have struggled to mount a serious challenge to Clinton, and recent polls show her more than 25 points ahead of her nearest GOP rival. Then-Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro abandoned her bid after several stumbles; Edward Cox, son-in-law of President Nixon, said he would pass on the race despite GOP appeals.
Clinton's fundraising totals and her poll numbers make her the early favorite among potential Democratic candidates for the White House in though she repeatedly insists she isn't thinking beyond the Senate race.
Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, one of two lesser-known Republicans challenging Clinton, raised $571,000 and ended the year with $243,000 in cash on hand.
So where is this going? Her Hillaryness is sitting on a pile of cash for her "senate campaign." Her rivals are lagging so far behind that look like they're walking backwards. With the power of the incumbency, she isn't going to need bupkiss to get re-elected. And all that leftover swag goes into fundraising for the "Hillary 2008" campaign*
Her tightwire act between now and the Super Tuesday is going to be very instructive. She is going to have to convince the Kos Kidz that she is a real-live transnational progressive while convincing the traditional Democratic base that she really does take national defense seriously.
Watch that she will not condemn the principal of use of military force or the NSA intercepts--only that the Bush administration has misused them. She won't willingly say anything that will limit executive power when she assumes office.
Kos, Cindy Sheenan, Hugo Chavez, Jack Abramoff, Hillary Clinton, NSA, Hamas....
It's going to be a hell of a ride.
* I know, it's not an official web presence, but, then, neither is this blog.