Regula’s Showing Strong

Posted February 2, 2004 at 6:35pm

After getting a late start in the race to take the Appropriations Committee gavel in the 109th Congress, Ohio Rep. Ralph Regula vaulted himself into the upper echelon of Republican fundraisers in the last quarter of 2003.

While the other two chairmanship candidates, Reps. Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Hal Rogers (Ky.), have long been adept at raising cash, Regula’s money totals have traditionally been anemic. But after forming his leadership political action committee in August, Regula’s CARE PAC finished the year strong, raising $630,000 in just four months and reporting $558,000 in the bank as of Dec. 31, 2003.

That ending balance eclipsed those of Lewis’ Future Leaders PAC, which raised $523,000 for the year and had $428,000 on hand, and Rogers’ HALPAC, which raked in $668,000 in 2003 and closed December with $531,000 in the bank.

Regula, Lewis and Rogers are currently second, third and fourth, respectively, on the Appropriations GOP seniority list to Chairman Bill Young (Fla.), who will be forced by term limits to surrender the gavel at the end of this Congress.

Fundraising prowess will likely be one key factor in determining which of the three candidates succeeds Young.

“I presume that would be true,” Regula said of the importance of raising money and giving generously to fellow Republicans.

In the past, Regula’s re-election committee almost never accepted donations from political action committees. But CARE PAC took in $160,000 from PACs in 2003, including donations from many of his fellow Ohio GOP lawmakers.

Regula said he started taking PAC donations because “it’s the only way you can develop a sizable amount of money,” though he plans to use PAC money only to help other candidates and not to fund his own re-election.

While Regula’s PAC posted impressive cash totals, it still trails Rogers’ and Lewis’ committees in its largess to campaigns.

In 2003, Regula’s PAC doled out a total of $12,000 to other Republican candidates, all in December. He gave $2,000 apiece to Bush-Cheney ’04, Reps. Anne Northup (Ky.), Michael Turner (Ohio) and Rick Renzi (Ariz.), and Kentucky House candidates Geoff Davis and Alice Forgy Kerr.

Rogers’ PAC handed out $8,500 in December and a total of $95,000 for the year, while Lewis’ committee ponied up $5,000 in December and $93,000 for the year.

Regula also lags behind his competitors in raising money for his re-election committee. Lewis and Rogers ended 2003 with $1.4 million and $1.1 million in the bank, respectively, while Regula reported just $105,000. None of the three men faces a competitive race in November.