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Member Fundraisers Flood Agenda

Bill Clark/Roll Call
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn said GOP incumbents will try to close the fundraising gap with Democrats in the next few weeks.

With very little on the Congressional agenda this month, vulnerable Members are finding something else to do with their time: Raise money.

House Democratic and Republican incumbents, for instance, have scheduled about 415 Washington, D.C.-based fundraising events in September, according to party campaign committee lists obtained by Roll Call. The stakes couldn’t be higher: Analysts and opinion polls have suggested Democrats are at risk of losing the House and possibly — although less likely — the Senate.

And with Members planning to spend just three or four weeks in session before heading home to campaign full time, both parties are looking to take advantage of Washington’s wealthy, lobbyist-driven donor base.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said Tuesday that the number of fundraisers this month isn’t surprising, particularly for Republicans who are trying to close the money gap with Democrats. Senate Republicans need to pick up 10 seats in November to retake the chamber; House Republicans need to net 39.

“Historically, the Democrats have raised and spent more than we have — at least in recent history,” Cornyn said. “The challenge is going to be making sure that our voices and our candidates are heard in these last 49 days. That is a very serious issue.”

But it’s not just Republicans who are getting in on the action. Vulnerable House Democrats such as Reps. Ike Skelton (Mo.), Glenn Nye (Va.) and Chet Edwards (Texas) are among those making a heavy pitch to K Street donors.

Skelton is holding four events before the end of the month, including a fundraiser hosted by law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and a labor industry luncheon at Johnny’s Half Shell on Capitol Hill. Edwards and Nye are holding three events apiece.

Senior Democrats are pitching in to help their colleagues. Rep. Norm Dicks (Wash.), who is in line to assume the Appropriations Committee gavel in the next Congress as long as Democrats keep control of the House, is scheduled to headline seven events this month for vulnerable Members and fellow appropriators.

House Republicans are hosting about 160 events before the end of the month, according to a National Republican Congressional Committee list. The NRCC also listed nearly 50 challenger fundraisers set for the coming weeks.

Vulnerable Republicans such as Reps. Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.) and Lee Terry (Neb.) are among the leading money chasers. Cao is holding three events featuring Republican leaders, including NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) and Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), chairman of the GOP leadership.

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