Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray has adjusted the partys fundraising strategy as she works to defend tough seats in 2012. The Washington Democrat is on her second tour of duty at the DSCC and has a challenging cycle ahead.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has reorganized and expanded its fundraising operation as Chairwoman Patty Murray moves to defend her party's tenuous four-seat hold on the majority heading into 2012.
The DSCC outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee by $1.6 million in the second quarter, and the Washington state lawmaker generally receives high marks from K Street operatives and her Democratic colleagues for her performance helming the committee for the second time since 2001. Still, Murray's challenge is daunting: Of the 23 Democratic-held seats on the ballot, four are in Republican-leaning states, four are in swing states and four are in states that saw significant GOP gains in 2010.
To meet this challenge, the DSCC has implemented three new fundraising programs targeting K Street and national donors, increased its phone, direct-mail and Internet fundraising activities, poured $1 million into an opposition-research tracking system and hired 11 communications directors across the country. Although the electoral map at this point in the cycle puts the Republicans in a good position to flip the Senate in 2012, Murray is confident she can sustain the Democratic majority and said in an interview that the DSCC is meeting "all" of its goals.
"I think we're doing really good," Murray told Roll Call this week in her typically soft-spoken fashion. "What we're finding is that people are really responsive. They know what's at stake now."
The new fundraising programs include the Chairman's Council, targeting $10,000 donors. Previously, the DSCC tailored its appeals to contributors who fit in the $5,000 and $15,000 categories. Also new are programs called "Sustainer" — focused on the $100, young professional donor — and "Patron" — for the bundler who can raise $150,000 or more. "Patron" is the DSCC's first program designed to appeal to supporters who raise money from others on the committee's behalf.
Murray has also beefed up the DSCC's existing Women's Senate Network and appointed Sen. Kay Hagan (N.C.) as chairwoman of the national donor program. Other Democratic Members providing extra help include Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), who has transferred $250,000 in personal campaign funds to the committee and travels once a month to raise money for the DSCC. Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris Coons (Del.), Al Franken (Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) are also boosting the DSCC.
There has been some grumbling downtown among Democratic operatives about the DSCC's fundraising and its political operation, although the majority of reviews have been positive. One Democratic consultant had expected fundraising to be more brisk, given the number of incumbent Democrats running for re-election in 2012 and the power that comes with the Senate majority. As a rule, lobbyists will not donate to challengers of any party who run against a sitting Senator.
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