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EMILY's List Makes a Name for Itself; Pro-Choice Democratic Women's Lobby Is Proving a Powerful Opponent
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Campaign contributions; Candidates; Political finance; Congressional elections -- Michigan
Author: Edsall, Thomas B
Date: Apr 21, 2002
Start Page: A.05
Section: A SECTION

On Monday night, the [John D. Dingell] campaign has put together an impressive Washington fundraiser hosted by many of the most influential Democratic women in the city, including former representative Pat Schroeder (Colo.), Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.), former top Clinton appointee Jamie Gorelick, and lobbyists Anne Wexler, Liz Robbins and Hilary Rosen. Dingell is struggling to affirm his feminist credentials in the face of the most serious Democratic primary challenge since he first won office in 1955. Not only has he has been redistricted into a battle with fellow incumbent Democrat Lynn N. Rivers, but Rivers has the backing of an emerging political juggernaut: EMILY's List.

Already a major player, EMILY's List will only gain in stature with the enactment of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act. While the national parties are struggling to figure out how to survive without "soft money" -- large donations often exceeding $100,000 from corporations, unions and individuals -- EMILY's List is free to continue to raise both hard and soft money, and to pursue its true specialty: the bundling of small contributions into large packets of cash for favored candidates.

In recent months, however, as EMILY's List has flexed its muscles in several Democratic primaries, its role has become increasingly controversial. The group angered many Clinton loyalists when it backed former state representative Nancy Kaszak (D) against former White House aide Rahm Emanuel in a Chicago area congressional primary. Emanuel supports abortion rights and most other women's issues, but EMILY's List spent over $400,000 on ads attacking him for his support of NAFTA.

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