RNC Doles Out Cash, DNC Goes Door to Door
With almost $43 million in the bank at the end of March, the Republican National Committee is the looming giant on the 2006 political landscape. For months, Democratic strategists have privately fretted that the RNC will begin to dump millions of dollars into key Senate and House races in the fall -- complicating their efforts to win back majorities in either chamber.
An RNC fundraiser tonight featuring National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairwoman Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) will do little to quell those fears. The event, which will be held at the St. Regis hotel, is expected to raise $150,000 from the 150 or so lobbyists scheduled to attend.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman insists that the dollar amount for the fundraiser is less important than the emphasis on coordination between the three committees. "From the beginning I have viewed the Senate committee and House committee as partners in keeping Republican majoriities in Congress," Mehlman said. "We are looking [at] every one of the campaigns as a team." As evidence, Mehlman pointed out that he leads a newly-minted weekly call with deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, White House political director Sara Taylor, White House communications director Nicolle Wallace and various representatives of the House and Senate committees to share information and plan for the fall campaign.
The largest impact the RNC can have on the fall campaign, however, is by opening its bursting bank account to the NRCC and NRSC -- both of whom find themselves in surprisingly competitive fundraising races with their Democratic counterparts. At the end of March, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had a two-to-one cash edge over the NRSC; the NRCC had just $1 million more in the bank than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
For their part, the Democratic National Committee is aiming to make a major gain in their 50 state strategy this Saturday by organizing roughly 1,000 voter canvassing events around the country to spread the Democrats' alternative plan for America.
The goal, according to DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney, is to hang 1 million door knob placards and -- in the process -- start a series of conversations about the 2006 elections. It is the first in a series of three events (the second will be in July, the third in September) designed to "connect this grassroots online community with the activity going on in their states," according to Finney.
The idea of neighbor-to-neighbor contact was used to incredible effectiveness during the 2004 presidential race by the Bush campaign, which relied heavily on local officials and community leaders to deliver its message. Finney tacitly acknowledged the success of that effort, noting that "in the 2004 elections [Democrats] raised record amounts of money and had record turnout but the ability to have this kind of infrastructure was something we were lacking."
The level of activity from both the DNC and RNC in the runup to the 2006 elections suggest what both sides believe is at stake in November. For Republicans, the loss of the majority in either House would lead to gridlock in Congress and likely stymie the Bush Administration's chances of leaving a lasting policy legacy. For Democrats, who have watched their party lose the White House, the Senate, the House and a majority of governorships over the past 15 years, a win is much-needed to create momentum heading into the crucial 2008 presidential contest.
April 26, 2006; 1:30 PM ET
Categories: Democratic Party , Republican Party
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