Freshman GOP Sens. Pat Toomey (left) and Roy Blunt are among the prominent new Members who will lead regional fundraising teams that make regular appearances at events in Washington, D.C., and around the country.
According to a knowledgeable GOP source, Cornyn impressed upon Republican Senators the importance of participating in NRSC fundraising and other activities in order for them to capitalize on the favorable political environment.
The GOP began the 2010 cycle with roughly 40 seats and gained seven, and with 23 Democratic Senators up in 2012 compared with only nine Republicans, the party is well-positioned at this point to win back the majority next year.
The GOP source said that during Tuesday’s caucus lunch, Johanns urged colleagues to participate, telling them that he has a standing hour every week reserved to make NRSC fundraising calls, in addition to the events that he attends. Johanns announced last week that he would run for Conference chairman, which is being vacated by Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), who is running for the caucus’ No. 2 Whip position.
Another Senator to speak out during the lunch was Toomey, who last cycle had announced a primary challenge to then-Sen. Arlen Specter and was immediately embraced by the NRSC when Specter left the GOP to become a Democrat. Toomey lost a close race to Specter in the 2004 GOP primary in the face of heavy opposition from the NRSC and virtually the entire Republican establishment.
Toomey discussed how critical NRSC assistance was to his narrow victory in 2010, and his remarks were described by the GOP source as essentially a preview of the fundraising message that the Pennsylvania Republican will carry to potential donors in his work as a regional co-chairman.
“He was making the point that not all Senators might necessarily have had tough races in the past and don’t realize how important this committee is, but it’s really important that it be successful,” this source said. “That’s another reason why having freshmen like him will be so helpful with fundraising.”
Cornyn said he is hoping to begin changing GOP attitudes about having individual Senators transfer campaign money to the committee as a result of the $1 million transfers made to the NRSC last year by Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.), substantial contribution made by Burr, and smaller donations delivered by Ayotte, Hoeven and Toomey before they were even sworn into office.
“It seems like the Democrats always do better in that area. But we had some very generous Senators,” Cornyn said. “The more people see how others are stepping up, it creates a little bit of peer pressure and maybe a little more encouragement. That’s my hope, anyway.”
Last cycle, Democratic Senators transferred $10.3 million to the DSCC compared with $4.6 million in Member transfers received by the NRSC. DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said he expects his committee to enjoy another cycle of strong Member support. The DSCC declined Wednesday to release its January fundraising numbers.
“They are already working hard to ensure the committee has the resources we need to win,” Cecil said.