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Cornyn Plotting to Rob Peter

In terms of candidate recruiting, these strategists say that attempting to lure House Republicans to run for Senate with the enticement of being more relevant is simply stating the obvious. Beyond Castle, the NRSC has indicated an interest in recruiting Reps. Peter King (N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) to run for the Senate in their respective states.

When it comes to fundraising, the NRSC’s appeal is more deliberate. Particularly because the business community has set its sights on derailing passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, or “card check,” the NRSC is purposely pointing out that the only chance of preventing the bill from reaching Obama’s desk for his signature is a GOP Senate filibuster.

The legislation, which would eliminate secret-ballot elections to determine whether a company’s employees should unionize, passed the House on a virtual party-line vote in the 110th Congress but died at the hands of a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate.

“It’s no crafty sales pitch. It’s true. [House Republicans] are down [40] seats,” said one GOP operative partial to Cornyn’s strategy.

Republican House sympathizers, however, question the effectiveness of Cornyn’s rhetoric, noting that the NRSC employed a similar approach last cycle and still lost at least eight seats. They also note that Senate Republicans will have a hard time mounting a filibuster in the 111th Congress given that they have the bare minimum of Members required to sustain one.

The NRCC appeared unfazed by the tactics being employed by Cornyn and the NRSC.

“There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. Chairman Sessions understands the leadership role that Sen. Cornyn has been tasked with and he looks forward to working with him,” NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said. “We are confident that the committee will be successful in our fundraising and recruitment efforts.”

Given the tight restrictions on how much individual donors and political action committees can contribute, a certain amount of competition between the House, Senate and national party campaign committees within each party is to be expected. Federal Election Commission regulations dictate that individuals give no more than $69,900 combined to national party committees during the 2010 cycle.

For the House and Senate campaign committees, that competition typically extends to recruiting, as the NRSC and DSCC often try to poach House Members they feel would make strong Senate candidates.

Even with the high level of cooperation that existed during the 2006 cycle between then-DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and then-DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is now Obama’s chief of staff, a degree of tension between the two committees remained.

“If you’re a Democrat in the House, you don’t want anyone from the Senate plucking your Members away and creating a competitive seat you’ll have to defend,” said one Washington, D.C.-based Democratic operative who previously worked for one of the Congressional campaign committees.

“There’s a healthy rivalry that the committees have to work to keep in check.”

Among the ways the DCCC and DSCC cooperated the past two cycles was on field operations, ensuring that the two campaign arms did not duplicate efforts and waste resources. During the 2006 cycle in particular, Schumer and Emanuel conducted joint news conferences.

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