Arthur Finkelstein died at his home in Ipswich on Friday at the age of 72. Finkelstein was a skillful Republican political consultant who achieved substantial success with a wide array of candidates. Sam Roberts’s New York Times obituary provides the necessary information if you can ignore the “homophobic” slur that Roberts pins on unnamed clients of Finkelstein, who was homosexual.
I met Finkelstein in late 1995 or early 1996 when he came out to present his findings on the campaign to be run by my friend Rudy Boschwitz to oust Paul Wellstone, the incumbent who had knocked Rudy off in 1990. Rudy’s 1996 campaign manager was my friend Jon Lerner, now serving as deputy UN ambassador under Nikki Haley. Rudy asked me to sign on as treasurer of his 1996 Senate campaign and invited me to attend Finkelstein’s presentation.
Finkelstein had compiled a huge notebook full of polling data. It was detailed and interesting. At this remove I remember only that something like 7 or 8 percent of Minnesotans confused Rudy Boschwitz with the late former Democratic governor Rudy Perpich. The two of them had little in common but their first name. Rudy Perpich had died in 1995. Rudy Boschwitz lost the race, but is still with us and still adding to the good deeds he has done in the course of a productive life. (I wrote about him briefly in the Weekly Standard column “The ambassador nobody knows.”)
Finkelstein had also served as a consultant to former Florida Senator Connie Mack III. In his oral presentation, Finkelstein attributed Mack’s narrow victory over Buddy McKay in the 1988 election for the Senate seat vacated by Lawton Chiles to the voters who mistakenly preferred Mack to McKay “because she is a woman” or something like that. RIP.