Blue and White lost one of its top assets on Thursday, when sources in the party confirmed that it would be without the services of its American strategist Mark Mellman in the September 17 election.
Mellman, who worked for Yesh Atid and Blue and White in the past three elections, is considered among the top polling experts and strategists for Democratic candidates in the United States.
The chairman of the American Association of Political Consultants, Mellman counts among his clients Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and House whip Steny Hoyer. He has also helped guide the campaigns of 29 US senators, 10 governors, over two dozen members of Congress, and numerous state and local officials.
Mellman is also the president of Democratic Majority for Israel, which works to maintain and strengthen support for Israel among Democratic leaders, including presidential and congressional candidates, as well as with the grassroots of progressive movements.
Mellman said the reason is that he is busy professionally with his work and Democratic Majority for Israel and personally with his son's upcoming marriage. But he said he will continue offering advice.
"I’m not in a position to play the same role I played last time, but I will continue offering advice as I’m able," Mellman said. "The good news is they don’t need me. Ironically, Bibi went into the last election stronger than he had ever been. As a result of his daily debacles since then he will be a lot easier to beat this time.
Another source said party leader Benny Gantz and MKs Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi insisted on Mellman’s removal as part of their power struggle with Lapid, who will not oversee the new campaign as he did in April.
Even if Mellman will not work for Blue and White, he will still advise Lapid. A Lapid spokesman said “Mellman is a partner in our path and one of the world’s leaders in polls and campaigns... Mellman will continue to work with Lapid, as he has for the past seven years.”
Sources in the party said another American strategist could end up getting hired, but it was not definite. They denied a report in Maariv that Ronald Lauder – president of the World Jewish Congress – had found the party a new American strategist.
The Israeli strategist who will be working for Blue and White for the new election is Israel Bahar, who has worked on successful campaigns in the past for Likud, Labor, Kulanu and Shas.
Bahar was credited with initiating the joint venture of Gantz and Lapid that became Blue and White, and has continued to advise Gantz since the last election. He is building a new team that will not include most of the strategists and advisers that worked with the party ahead of the April election.