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National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) is breaking with his own policy and urging GOP Members to contribute to the committee, recognizing that money could make the difference in the races for a dozen Democratic-held seats that now qualify as legitimate pickup opportunities.
Cornyn’s efforts were boosted Wednesday when Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.) announced to their GOP colleagues commitments to transfer $1 million each in personal campaign funds to the NRSC.
Cornyn said at the outset of the midterm cycle that he would not ask Republican Senators for transfers, given its historical futility. But with the 10 seats needed to retake the Senate majority within reach — however unlikely — the NRSC chairman has pivoted.
“What we intend to try to do is use this as a good example for others to search their souls and perhaps follow,” Cornyn said, of the Coburn and McCain transfers. “Getting here toward the end, where we have so many races in play, where resources are going to be so critical, I’m going to be encouraging my colleagues to do everything they humanly can, including making transfers.”
“It’s one thing we’re missing now: It’s money for our candidates. That’s what they need more than anything else,” McCain said. Coburn said plainly that he committed to the transfer to help the NRSC win seats. Also Wednesday, House Republicans — who have never been shy about donating to the National Republican Congressional Committee — committed an additional $4.4 million to the NRCC in a Member transfer drive instigated by House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio).
Both Coburn and McCain are up for re-election this year, but neither is facing a competitive general election race, freeing up the money. Meanwhile, the NRSC in September received transfers of $100,000 each from Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.).
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) also transferred money and has committed to giving more out of his re-election account in October, according to Republican sources.
Cornyn anticipates more Member transfers in October, and GOP Senators optimistic about the Nov. 2 elections appear to be in a more generous mood than in 2006 and 2008, when Republicans lost a total of 14 seats. Senate GOP Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said he expects Republicans to be helpful to the NRSC during the remaining four weeks of the fall campaign.
“I think every Senator is doing in their own way what they can to help the team. For some people that means making direct transfers,” said Thune, who has traveled extensively since August to help raise money for the NRSC and GOP House and Senate candidates. “I suspect you may see active efforts now that we’re out of session — particularly for Senators that are not in cycle.”