House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi raised $1 million from her colleagues during the last week, according to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aide.
Pelosi and other top House Democrats are making the case that members need to open their wallets for the midterms, after the DCCC made a series of airtime cuts in districts the party had previously targeted as pick-up opportunities.
Pelosi and DCCC Chairman Steve Israel held a caucus-wide a conference call Wednesday afternoon pressing members to pony up or exceed their assigned dues. The call garnered roughly $585,000 from members. The push followed another conference call from last week, when Pelosi leaned on ranking members to help with the dues collection process. That effort yielded $400,000 in member transfers to the DCCC.
Dues are a ritual of modern politics. Early in the cycle, members are assigned an amount they are expected to pay through their campaign accounts to the DCCC. The amounts vary — from $125,000 to $800,000 — depending on leadership position, seniority and committee assignments.
House Democrats must capture 17 seats to take the majority. But in the wake of President Barack Obama's declining popularity, House operatives are focused on keeping the seats they have.
GOP outside group spending in recent weeks added an urgency to the Democratic scramble for money.
According to the Wednesday call, Israel and Pelosi were on the hunt for $16 million in outstanding dues from the caucus. That sum includes assigned dues to members who rarely pay up, a struggle for both parties.
Israel beat the drum on comments he made at a Wednesday news conference that the DCCC's primary mission at this point is to protect incumbents and his disappointment with Democratic allied groups.
Pelosi pledged an additional $100,000, and Israel promised another $50,000 on top of their previously given sums. At least 14 members chimed in, either on the call or in email to Pelosi, promising money to the committee.
"This is a telethon, member after member is getting on and saying they are doing dues," a Democratic source who was on the call told CQ Roll Call.
Sometimes, parties engage in quirky tactics in the dues process. Earlier this cycle, House Republicans held an auction-style meeting to pressure members to pay up and four Republican member roommates competed over house chore duty in their dues collecting.
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