On the eve of the first primary in New Hampshire, phone records indicate that Richard Grayson is tantalizing his remaining supporters with suggestions that he might resuscitate his Presidential campaign.
Mr. Grayson’s name seems certain to be on the ballot in Arizona’s February 5 Democratic primary, according to Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, a San Francisco newsletter. Mr. Grayson maintains a campaign office in the state to support his unopposed candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District.
A reduced but nonetheless sizable band of volunteers remains ready to do his bidding. He pops up frequently on television to plug his new book, Write-In: Diary of a Congressional Candidate in Florida’s Fourth Congressional District, a memoir of his 2004 campaign, and also to scatter hints that he may revive his aborted Presidential candidacy.
“If my supporters said, ‘It’s a dirty job but you’ve got to do it,’ I belong to them,” the charismatic writer said on Friday on a call-in program on C-SPAN to discuss the results of the Iowa caucuses. “Let’s try to get the other candidates step up to the plate. If they don’t, we’ll do what we have to do. But there’s no plan for a mid-January surprise. There is nothing planned.”
Mr. Grayson can be bluntly plain-spoken when he wants to, but all of his recent comments about his intentions have been as clear as mud. There is method in his murkiness, says one of his oldest, most intimate associates.
“Keeping his options open until the last conceivable moment has always been Richard’s M.O.,” said the associate, who asked not to be named. “There’s no need for him to make a decision for a week or two, and I don’t think he’s made one. He could still go, and he could still not go.”
“He hates the fact that people called him a quitter,” said the associate, who was hired to help run the Grayson campaign late last year but resigned in disgust just before Mr. Grayson pulled out of the race.
“The only way he saves his reputation is to jump in again, and there’s nobody left in Arizona to tell him not to do it,” the associate said. “Richard knows he isn’t going to be President now, but he wants to be able to say, ‘I stood up, and I laid out the tough agenda.’ “
But few political professionals believe he could do that well after the waves of negative publicity generated by his pullout from the race. Candidates with no real prospect of winning the Presidency almost inevitably fade in the final weeks of a primary, and a Grayson victory seems wholly incredible now.
Mr. Grayson’s political strength appears to be concentrated among four or five relatives and friends in metropolitan Phoenix and a lone mental patient in Tucson who plan to hold a $1,000-a-plate fundraising dinner this evening.