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With more Fortune 500 companies headquartered there than in any other state and an economy doing better than most considering the national recession, Texas appears financially fertile enough to fuel both the NRSC and NRCC, any competition for major donors between the two committees notwithstanding.
As is customary, the FEC contribution limits are set to increase for the 2010 cycle, although not so much that a major donor would be able to write one check each to the NRCC, NRSC and RNC. The aggregate limit individuals can give per election cycle to federal candidates and committees currently $108,200 also might ignite a competition for Texas wealth of GOP money, at least within the major-donor community.
In most cases, both Cornyn and Sessions are going after the same group, said a Texas Republican strategist based in Washington, D.C. Cornyn will have the immediate advantage, being hes better known statewide and the fact that Senate races are higher-profile.
Based in San Antonio, Cornyn has managed over the years to establish close relationships with the Republican money crowd in Houston, among whose biggest players are real estate developer Bob Perry, oil services company chairman Dan Duncan, attorney John ONeill and Nau.
Cornyn should also have the fundraising edge in his hometown of San Antonio, where the notable Republican donors include automobile dealer Red McCombs, government-affairs executive and former Rep. Tom Loeffler, and physician Jim Leininger.
But even the Washington-based Texas Republican strategist who believes Cornyn has the initial fundraising advantage argued that Sessions is better-connected in Dallas, and said he comes to the table with some other built-in advantages. Some GOP operatives expect Cornyn and Sessions to trade favors, with the Congressman introducing the Senator to his Dallas contacts, and Cornyn doing the same for Sessions in Houston and San Antonio.
The Dallas players whom Sessions is close to include T. Boone Pickens, the oil man who has lately been pushing wind energy; billionaire investor Harold Simmons; retired oil company Chief Executive Officer Louis Beecherl; and the entrepreneurial Wyly brothers, Charles and Sam.
Harrison expressed confidence that Sessions long list of donors in Dallas would continue to give generously in the 2010 cycle regardless of other fundraising factors.
Congressman Sessions has two ZIP codes that raised $2 million each for Bush in 2004. We are very deep in Dallas, he said.
The size of the Texas House delegation could also play into Sessions favor. While Cornyn has the statewide name recognition, there are 20 Texas Republicans in the House who will presumably be motivated to help Sessions fill the coffers at the NRCC.
One source familiar with the Texas delegation noted that over the last few election cycles, donors at the district level have become accustomed to receiving fundraising appeals from House lawmakers on behalf of the NRCC. Donors in Texas are used to giving to the NRCC and seeing results electorally, the source said.