Moving to solidify his hold on the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2010 election cycle, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) is raising money for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) runoff campaign and offering to help Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) survive an upcoming recount.
Coleman is all that stands in the way of Cornyns goal of succeeding outgoing NRSC Chairman John Ensign (Nev.). Coleman also has expressed interest in taking the NRSC next cycle, but his ability to run for the post has been put on hold.
Coleman secured a razor-thin victory over comedian Al Franken (D) on Nov. 4, but the margin is so tight that Minnesota is now engaging in a mandatory recount.
The recount isnt expected to be completed until a month after next weeks Senate Republican Conference leadership elections, during which lawmakers will choose their next NRSC leader.
Sen. Cornyn is committed to doing whatever he can to support Sens. Chambliss and Coleman and help ensure their return to the Senate, Cornyns Senate spokesman Brian Walsh said.
Cornyn has committed $100,000 to the NRSC to help fund Chambliss race. The Georgia Republican fell just shy of winning his re-election outright last week, and now he is in a two-man runoff with former state Rep. Jim Martin (D). The runoff election is scheduled for Dec. 2.
Cornyn already has raised $85,000 of the $100,000 he has promised to bring in for the NRSC in the Georgia race, and he plans to donate the rest out of his campaign account. Cornyn easily won a second Senate term on Nov. 4, fending off state Rep. Rick Noriega (D).
Cornyn has been eying the NRSC chairmanship since early this summer. Faced with the potential for a tough fight for the post with Coleman, Cornyn in July donated $250,000 from his campaign account to the NRSC to lay the groundwork for his bid, and he gave another $50,000 in October.
Also in October, Cornyn gave $25,000 apiece to Republican parties in five states where GOP Senators were facing tough re-election fights: Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina and Oregon.
Coleman ran for NRSC chairman in 2004, losing by one vote to Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.), who went on to preside over the GOPs loss of the Senate majority in 2006. Dole lost her re-election bid this year.
Coleman has indicated his interest in the NRSC chairmanship for the 2010 cycle, and he suggested he has the support of many in the Senate GOP Conference who regret not electing him to the position in 2004. For some, Coleman could be an attractive choice in light of the strong campaign he ran in a Democratic state in such a big Democratic year.
But Coleman has not commented on his intentions since finishing a scant 206 votes ahead of Franken upon Mondays conclusion of the standard canvass of votes that follows every Minnesota election. It remains unclear if he will be in a position to run for the post next week even if he wants to.
Since that time, Cornyn announced he would put his bid on hold so that Coleman could focus on his re-election and recount.