Former President Bill Clinton and David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s senior campaign adviser, support different Democratic candidates in a New Jersey congressional primary.
Democratic Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell are squaring off in the June 5 contest because of redistricting. Axelrod is backing Rothman, a national Democratic aide told The Washington Post
. Clinton offered his endorsement to Pascrell earlier this month.
The endorsements seem to indicate that the rivalry between Obama and the Clintons from 2008 isn’t quite over. Rothman supported Obama in his 2008 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, while Pascrell backed Clinton.
Obama himself can’t be seen intervening in a contest between Democrats, but Axelrod’s move makes it clear where the president’s sentiments lie.
This marks the seventh intra-party congressional contest in which Bill Clinton has endorsed a Hillary supporter over an Obama backer. Bill Clinton’s aides say he wants to help out those candidates who stuck their necks out to boost his wife.
Obama’s signals have been more of the stealth variety. Former Rep. Patrick Murphy also received backing from Axelrod in his unsuccessful primary bid for Pennsylvania attorney general last month. Murphy lost to Clinton-supported Kathleen Kane.
Last week, California Rep. Howard Berman, who faces Rep. Brad Sherman in another redistricting primary June 5, rode with the president on his way to a fundraiser with George Clooney. Sherman is backed by Clinton.
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