POLITICS
06/25/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

More Than Half Of 'Democrats For McCain' List Have GOP Ties

In an effort to demonstrate his broad political appeal, Sen. John McCain on Saturday released a list of "prominent Democrats and Independents" who were supporting his candidacy.

The whole concept was disputed from the get-go. None of the names were particularly prominent, Politico's Ben Smith observed. And Greg Sargent at Talking Points Memo noted on Tuesday that many of the officials "have often supported Republicans in the past, suggesting that there's little if any meaning to their support for McCain over Obama."

Sargent highlighted seven such individuals, including Bill Veroneau, former mayor of Concord, New Hampshire, who originally had endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president; former state Rep. Steve Wenzel of Minnesota, who worked on Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's transition team; and former Massachusetts state Rep. Brian Golden, who endorsed President Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

It turns out that Sargent only scratched the tip of the iceberg. A review of the list of the new "Democrats and Independents" who have joined "Citizens for McCain" shows that more than half of the 30 members have either obvious ties to the Republican Party or are regularly touted by GOP politicians as Democratic defectors.

Take, for example, former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, who actually contributed McCain (as well as GOP Rep. Trent Franks) in 2004. Like Johnson, Phil Hubbard, a former Democratic state legislator, also finds himself on McCain's new list. He also has a track record of backing Republicans.

Former Sheriff of Highlands County Howard Godwin, whose support McCain touted, endorsed Bush in 2004, serving on the president's National Steering Committee of "Democrats for Bush." The same holds true for Mississippi City Clerk Judi May, County Supervisor Gary Dearman, and Alderman Bill Mosby -- all former "Democrats for Bush," all current "Democrats for McCain."

Former State Representative Brian Golden of Massachusetts, likewise, endorsed Bush in 2004 and, to top it off, aided Bush's recount efforts in Florida during the 2000 campaign, according to the Boston Globe.

Other McCain Democrats have expressed past support for surrogates and supporters of the Arizona Republican. Former Lt. Governor and State Supreme Court Justice Alexander Keith backed his state's governor Tim Pawlenty in the 2002 gubernatorial race, telling the Star Tribune, "I love this guy; he can stay at my house if he wants to." Sticking in Minnesota, former Rep. Tim Penny (now a McCain supporter) left the Democratic Party in 2002 to run as an Independent in the 2002 gubernatorial race.

Meanwhile, other McCain Democrats have freely backed GOP candidates in the past, even publicly expressing their preference for the conservative brand, while even more have contributed to Republican candidates while not offering a dime to their Democratic counterparts.

Taken as a whole, approximately 17 members of McCain's 30-person list have credible ties to Republican politics, either through endorsements, financial donations or actual jobs. Of course, it's not unexpected that McCain would tout these individuals -- they are supporting him as opposed to Barack Obama, But the idea that this list is evidence of McCain's overwhelming bipartisan appeal is political hyperbole.

Update: Add a few more to the list. The St. Petersburg Times staff goes searching for the Florida Democrats that are on McCain's list and turn up a blogger who can't be reached and a former sheriff who is non-too-pleased with the attention.