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House, Senate Leaders Hit Trail

'Big-Name Politicians' Plan to Log Long Hours

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Congressional leaders such as Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin have busy campaign schedules ahead and will end up logging thousands of miles to stump for their fellow lawmakers before Election Day.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin's trip to Wisconsin earlier this week demonstrated why Congressional leaders are top campaigners in October. The Illinois Senator's visit prompted a Green Bay television station to air a segment on Democratic politics the Monday after a Packers game.

At a Democratic office in Appleton, Durbin told volunteers and reporters that electing Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Baldwin is crucial to maintaining the party's Senate majority. The local NBC affiliate dubbed its leading news story "Another Big-Name Politician Comes to Wisconsin."

Durbin spent two days in the Badger State, one of more than a half-dozen states he plans to visit in the coming weeks.

The No. 2 Senate Democrat is not alone in his efforts. House and Senate leaders are among the most versatile and tenacious campaigners in both parties, planning to log hundreds of hours and thousands of miles this fall to help their colleagues and bolster the strength of their caucuses. They are utility infielders - players who can come into the game at any position to help the team - and power sluggers whose political value soars above that of rank-and-file Members.

 A Roll Call survey of leadership offices reveals busy campaign schedules for every top-ranking Member, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)and Speaker John Boehner.

Boehner has already been to Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida, with an East Coast swing through New York up next. The Ohio Republican's focus has been on "orphan races" in states that lack a high-profile contest at the top of the ticket, or in which those ballot-topping races are less competitive for Republicans. On his last barnstorming tour, Boehner raised $4 million during the 23 days leading up to August's Republican National Convention.

Reid has space on his schedule for a few out-of-state fundraisers but plans to spend plenty of time in Nevada, where he has been trying to help Rep. Shelley Berkley unseat GOP Sen. Dean Heller. With early voting starting Oct. 20, Reid plans to attend get-out-the-vote rallies.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - one of the party's most successful campaigners - has 65 fundraising and campaign events planned in eight states and in Washington, D.C., during the next five weeks. In September, she attended 77 events in five states after an August in which she helped raise $6.8 million of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's $11.6 million in contributions. September fundraising totals are not yet available for any of the leaders.

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