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GOP Campaign Arms May Seek ’12 Continuity

For Democrats, the campaign chairman is chosen solely by the party’s leader. Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), assuming he wins his tough re-election battle, could make that choice sometime after the November elections.

On the GOP side, Conference members vote on their campaign chairman, and NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) is viewed as all but certain to be re-elected to the post. A number of colleagues, he said, have already asked that he do a second term.

“Continuity is important. One thing that has not operated well at the NRSC is the fact that when you have a new chairman every two years, you have to strip the place down to the concrete and rebuild,” he said. “It’s also a lot of work. So I’m thinking about it.”

Senators praise the Texan’s performance in closing the money gap with Democrats, particularly since Republicans no longer have a head fundraiser in the White House.

“I don’t think we can have anyone better than John Cornyn has been in this cycle,” Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said. “If we can either persuade him to do it or find someone to do it as well as he’s done it, we’ll be a fortunate caucus.

Sessions’ Ambitions Unclear

On the House side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is destined for a leadership shake-up as Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) has made it clear he has no interest in serving a third term.

But it’s less clear whether there will be turnover at the top of the NRCC. It all depends on whether Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) wants to move up the leadership ladder after Election Day.

Rumors have already cropped up in GOP circles that Sessions might have ambitions to become Majority Whip if, as many suspect, Republicans take the majority in November. It’s a leadership move that might be viewed as well-deserved if Sessions does engineer a 39-seat-plus gain for the GOP this fall. Sessions is also the second Republican in line on the House Rules Committee and could have his eye on leading that panel.

Sessions’ office declined an interview for this article.

“I think Pete will be able to write his own ticket if he has the kind of night I think he will,” former NRCC Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) said last week. However, “if Sessions wanted to go [another term at the NRCC], in a lot of ways that’s a money move because you’ve got the experience at the helm.”

Davis added that Sessions’ experience would be particularly helpful in guiding the committee through a complicated redistricting cycle over the next two years. There is also precedent for Sessions to run the committee two cycles in a row. Davis and former Rep. Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) served back-to-back terms.

One high-ranking GOP staffer said last week that giving Sessions a second term at the NRCC not only helps with continuity but also avoids a potential leadership battle for Majority Whip with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who has also been mentioned for the job. Avoiding such battles might be appealing to Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), who is expected to be the new Speaker under a Republican majority, because it would help the Republican Conference appear united.

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