Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), who isnt up for re-election until 2010 but gave $25,000 in late June, said Schumer isnt twisting any arms to persuade Senators to make contributions to the DSCC. Rather, Dorgan said, theres a collective desire by Senate Democrats to grow their majority beyond its narrow 51-49 majority and to ensure the DSCC has the funding to run the races it wants to run.
Most all of us are really anxious to have a majority that gives us the chance to get things done, Dorgan said.
Dorgan has given $105,000 overall to the DSCC, and he is one of 21 Democratic Senators who have shelled out checks of at least six figures this cycle to the committee. Topping the total giving this cycle is Baucus with $615,000, followed by Feinstein with $585,500 and Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.) with $530,000.
Baucus spokesman Barrett Kaiser said Monday that his boss is pleased to be in a position to help the DSCC: While at the same time campaigning hard at home, the chairman is fortunate enough to be able to help build a larger majority and bring more moderate consensus builders to the U.S. Senate.
Schumer, along with other Democratic leaders, have set an ambitious goal of trying to get closer to 60 Senate seats next year a number that would allow Democrats to have enough votes in the Senate to overcome GOP filibusters of their legislation. Republicans, who now have 49 seats, need just 41 votes to block Democrats from moving bills through the chamber and have successfully used their margins as leverage this Congress.
Overall, Senate Democrats are heading into the final stretch of the two-year cycle with momentum. The DSCC just wrapped up the second quarter with $46 million in the bank and having raised $21 million during the three-month period. Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee took in $15 million in the second quarter and has $25 million on hand.
The NRSC has seen marked improvement in its fundraising this year but has continued to struggle when it comes to convincing its GOP Senators to contribute to the committee. The exception is Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the newly appointed NRSC vice chairman, who has raised and given millions and lobbied his colleagues to follow his lead.
Part of the Democrats success has stemmed from the fact that their incumbents are sitting on piles of wealth. As of mid-May, the dozen Senators facing re-election this fall had amassed about $50 million in cash.
Schumer said none of the Senate Democrats
up for re-election is over confident and realize their first obligation is to make sure they get re-elected. But, he said, many are now on solid enough footing that they can help out other Democrats by spreading their money around.
I try to ask each of my colleagues to do the maximum that would be generous but not overbearing, he said. I try to thread that needle.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.