Now we finally know. Lauren Baer and Nancy Pelosi really are a pair of like minds.
Baer, the 36-year-old lawyer and foreign policy expert who emerged as the Democrats' candidate-of-choice to oppose incumbent Brian Mast in Florida's 18th Congressional District, has finally made up her mind that Pelosi does share her values and does belong aboard her campaign.
She wasn't so sure of that in February, when MSNBC's Kasie Hunt asked the candidate if she would welcome House Minority Leader Pelosi, 77, to campaign for her in the Palm Beach and Treasure Coast district. Florida Politics' Mitch Perry rolled it out in a Feb. 5 story, "Lauren Baer Not Saying if She Wants Nancy Pelosi's Help."
“I think when it comes to anyone to campaign for me, the question is: do they share my values?” Baer responded to Hunt's question.
"Does she?" Hunt asked.
Baer proceeded to dance without ever mentioning Pelosi by name. Calling herself a "proud" Democrat, she said, “I think broadly the Democratic Party does (share my values), and when it comes to any particular strategic decision about who might come out in the campaign trail, that’s a decision to be made at a particular point in time.”
When asked, Baer also wasn't so sure if she would encourage a challenge to Pelosi's iron-handed leadership of House Democrats.
“I’m interested in seeing a diverse slate of candidates up for leadership of the party," she told Hunt. "I think it’s important that we have some competition and I would assess any candidates that were put before me at such time.”
I think it's safe to say that since Wednesday, any chance of a Baer assessment flew out of the window.
That's when Pelosi gave Baer some heavy-duty fundraising help, lending her name and photo to an email looking to raise $15,000 for Baer by this Saturday to meet the Dems' first public filing deadline of the election year.
"I'm calling on all Democrats," says the Pelosi mail. "Will you chip in to flip a Republican district BLUE?" Have a look at the minority leader's message on this page.
Oh, this was hardly some Pelosi sneak attack, sent out without the local candidate's permission. Baer and Pelosi are teamed up. The mailing had Pelosi stamped all over it, but it was distributed from and paid for by the Baer for Congress campaign.
Former Navy JAG attorney Pam Keith, also a Democrat and also in the race -- apparently got the bum treatment again, snubbed by party leaders as she was in 2016 when she challenged Patrick Murphy in the Democratic primary for Marco Rubio's Senate seat.
Rummi Khan, campaign manager for Keith, told me Wednesday his camp wasn't surprised. "Lauren is the handpicked choice of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but Pam is the grassroots leader. She represents the people," he said.
Khan pointed out there are 43,000 African Americans in CD 18, but Baer hasn't made an effort to hear any of them. "My candidate is African American. She's worked to help the homeless, help the jobless, she's a veteran who understands the struggles of a diverse population and she's going to win a lot of that vote."
Meanwhile, Republican Mast, a wounded veteran with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, who defeated Democrat Randy Perkins two years ago by nearly 10 percentage points, is keeping mum.
Not so, Maddie Anderson, regional press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Anderson is gleeful San Francisco liberal Pelosi will campaign beside Baer in a swing district.
“Lauren Baer apparently didn’t get the memo that Nancy Pelosi is the most unpopular political figure in every competitive House district this year," said Anderson. "In a cycle where record numbers of Democrats are desperately trying to distance themselves from Pelosi, Baer is sticking nice and close to her role model. This is a truly exciting development.”
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