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Wasting Away Again ... in Moneyville

For members of Congress, it's never too early to start raising money for the next campaign, whether a lawmaker won in a photo finish or completely trampled the opponent.

This week alone there are at least 14 different fundraisers for House Republicans looking to stock their war chests, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee's Web site.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) kicked off his 2008 campaign fundraising, at least in terms of inside-the-Beltway dollars, at a breakfast this morning. Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) held a "thank-you" breakfast for his donors today, while Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), one of those Republicans who barely squeaked by in the 2006 election, hosted a luncheon event at the Republican National Committee's Capitol Hill Club.

But no one seems as energetic this early in the cycle -- both in terms of the number of events and quality of entertainment provided -- as Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

Walden is celebrating his 50th birthday Wednesday night with a small-dollar fundraiser at one of Capitol Hill's favorite dive bars, Capitol Lounge -- a setting better known for its Tuesday night buffalo wing specials and customers half Walden's new age.

Walden has no special connection to the watering hole, which denizens affectionately call "The Lounge." It's just that the place has a two-room basement that Walden can take over for the evening, large enough that a band, Billy Clements and the Pick-ups, can set up and entertain the guests.

Suggested price: $50 for individuals, $500 for political action committees.

Walden is back on the circuit Thursday night at the Verizon Center hosting a money event during a concert by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Two other GOP lawmakers, Reps. Randy Kuhl (N.Y.) and Vern Buchanan (Fla.), are tagging along.

Perhaps the hottest fundraising ticked ticket on Walden's calendar is the March 8 Verizon Center event he is hosting at a concert by The Who.

"He's a huge classic rock fan," Shelly Roy, Walden's fundraising consultant, admitted of her boss.

Walden's political team makes no bones about it: The pace of fundraising isn't pretty but it's necessary. They also say it's preferable to start now rather than wait for a serious challenge to emerge.

Walden beat Democrat Carol Voisin 67 percent to 30 percent in 2006.

"We never really viewed the off year as an off year," said Roy. "He doesn't take anything for granted in his district."

Capitol Briefing can report on House GOP campaign fundraising events because the NRCC publishes this information on its Web site, something no other party committee on either side of the aisle does. Next week there are nine events already on tap, followed by eight more the week after that.

In fact, on Feb. 15, lobbyists and other corporate donors can start the day at a breakfast event with Walden, have cocktails at a comedy night at Morton's Steakhouse in downtown Washington for Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and then hit a Mardi Gras party for Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.).

By Paul Kane  |  January 30, 2007; 5:12 PM ET
Categories:  Fundraising Circuit , House  
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Paul, you introduce Roy after you use her last name.

You also make the process of fund-raising sound like fun. It isn't. Regardless of the venue, a 16-hour day isn't a barrel of monkeys.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | January 30, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, why is this blog called "Capitol Briefing"? Didn't WaPo editors recently declare that 'briefing' misleads readers into thinking that these are official announcements? Some double standard here?

Posted by: Gray | January 31, 2007 4:33 AM | Report abuse

Maybe if Congress had the cajones for real campaign finance reform, we would be treated more as constituents instead of potential donors. I feel like I've been sucked into the biggest and barely legal multi-level marketing scheme in American history.

Posted by: Washington Hotlist | January 31, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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