Democratic primary voters have been of two minds this year about candidates who served in the Clinton administration: Half of the dozen who have run for their party's nomination have won, and half have lost.
Two of the highest-profile players met defeat Tuesday, with Robert Reich losing his bid for governor in Massachusetts and Janet Reno conceding in Florida. The general election promises to be even tougher, with Clintonites facing several uphill races against incumbents.
But whether winners or losers, few of the 12 candidates for statewide office or congressional seats have campaigned heavily on their Clinton resume.
"The association with Clinton is certainly not political magic," said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "It's certainly a mixed blessing."
Erskine Bowles, the former White House chief of staff who is seeking to replace conservative Sen. Jesse Helms in North Carolina, hasn't been shy to criticize Clinton for his failings but also emphasizes his achievements. And Reno, the former attorney general who lost her bid to challenge GOP Gov. Jeb Bush, did not stress the connection with her old boss.
A few others have relied on the former president for fund raising and help at political rallies.
"I'm proud of what we did there," said former White House aide Bill Curry, who is challenging Connecticut GOP Gov. John G. Rowland. He boasts of his work negotiating the federal budget, given his state's current economic woes. He expects Clinton to campaign with him, though he hasn't featured the former president in TV ads.
"I'm not afraid of it losing me votes. But I have to use the ads to gain votes, and I can't look at the past," Curry said. "People are looking ahead, they're not looking at the rearview mirror when they go to the polls."
Curry, a former state comptroller who lost the 1994 governor's race to Rowland, began this campaign far behind in the polls but has narrowed the gap in recent weeks.
Tough contests also include the Senate race in New Mexico where Gloria Tristani, a Clinton appointee to the Federal Communications Commission, is challenging GOP incumbent Pete Domenici; and the House race in Minnesota where former National Security Council official Steve Andreasen is taking on four-term GOP Rep. Gil Gutknecht.
Reno and Reich, the former labor secretary, were the most prominent losers, along with former Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who withdrew from the Democratic gubernatorial primary in New York after falling behind in the polls. Three former Clinton aides also lost primaries for House seats: Ira Shapiro in Maryland, Pete Dagher in Illinois, and Fred DuVal in Arizona.
Out of the six candidates remaining, the best-positioned may be former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson -- ahead in polls for New Mexico governor -- and former Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel, who seems likely to be the congressman from a safe Democratic House seat in Chicago.
The dozen candidates were the most prominent. The list would be longer if it included low-level officials from all federal agencies, and if state and local races were thrown in the mix.
Adding Clinton to the campaign season, even just by connection with former administration officials, offered political observers a treat.
Clinton snubbed Reich, who wrote a book critical of the administration, by campaigning with an opponent who later dropped out. In New York, neither Clinton nor his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, endorsed Cuomo's run -- though the former president did stand by his side when Cuomo announced his withdrawal.
For Clinton loyalists, the crowd of candidates is a testament to the achievements of his presidency that overshadows the Lewinsky scandal and other dark moments.
"Whatever you thought of the administration, it openly embraced the notion that government could be a force for good in people's lives," said Carter Eskew, who worked on Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and was a political adviser. "It is a sense of making a difference."
Republicans, however, say the legacy gives them a window for effective criticism.
"Republicans will try to bring up the worst of whatever was the Clinton record," said Manuel Lujan, a former congressman in New Mexico. "It'll probably rile Republicans."
Reno narrowly lost the Democratic nomination for governor to political novice Bill McBride after entering the race looking unbeatable.
So what went wrong?
For one thing, some party leaders, big donors, union bosses and other Democratic heavyweights had doubts she could beat Republican Gov. Jeb Bush in November. As a result, she struggled to raise money and garner endorsements.
She also ran what some saw as a quirky, disorganized campaign, with very little TV advertising in a state of 16 million people and two time zones.
In addition, the GOP unwittingly built up McBride by running attack ads that only raised his name recognition.
"She just never hit the right buttons for people," said Lance de Haven-Smith, a Florida State University political science professor.
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