What Vacation? Leaders to Stump, Raise Funds in Recess

Posted May 21, 2004 at 4:32pm

House and Senate leaders will take little time to rest over the Memorial Day recess, instead fanning out across the country to bolster their respective parties’ efforts to make gains in November.

During the break, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) will headline more than a dozen fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She will also squeeze in campaign appearances for presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Pelosi, who has raised $26 million for the DCCC this cycle, began her fundraising tour in her home state on Sunday, with events in Newport Beach and San Francisco. On Tuesday, she heads to Texas for two days, with fundraisers scheduled for Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. On Thursday, she heads back to California to tout Kerry at a fundraiser in San Francisco.

In the meantime, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will spend the recess targeting three key House races in Pennsylvania.

Hoyer hits the road on Wednesday to raise money for Lois Murphy, Allyson Schwartz and Joe Driscoll, three Democratic House candidates in the Keystone State. Murphy is vying to oust Rep. Jim Gerlach (R); Schwartz is running for the seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Joe Hoeffel; and Driscoll is angling to succeed unsuccessful Senate candidate and GOP Rep. Pat Toomey.

Pennsylvania is one of the only White House battleground states that also has a competitive Senate race and more than one tight House contest.

On the Republican side, Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) will spend this week attending events in his district, bookended by two weekends worth of fundraising help for the party.

This past weekend, Hastert ventured to southern Indiana to boost the campaign of trucking company owner Mike Sodrel (R), who is trying for the second cycle in a row to oust Rep. Baron Hill (D) from the Hoosier State’s 9th district seat.

Next weekend, Hastert will journey to California to raise money for Republican candidates vying for the state’s only two open seats.

The Speaker will appear with Dan Lungren (R), the former state attorney general and House Member who is seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Doug Ose (R) in the Sacramento-area 3rd district. Hastert will then head down through the Central Valley to wangle donations for state Sen. Roy Ashburn, the Republican who is seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Cal Dooley (D) in the 20th district.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is scheduled to make several speeches and attend events in and around his district throughout the week. His office would not comment on his fundraising plans.

Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) will spend the break padding his own campaign accounts. Today, he hosts his annual golf tournament to benefit his leadership committee, the Rely on Your Beliefs PAC, at Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club in Leesburg, Va.

Blunt will spend the rest of the week in Missouri, where he will hold fundraisers for his re-election in Kansas City and Springfield.

Along with events spotlighting Medicare and education, Blunt will attend a Memorial Day gathering for the oldest living World War I veteran, a 107-year-old resident of the Majority Whip’s district.

In the Senate, both leaders are keeping a busy political schedule over the recess.

The tension has risen for the Senate leadership, due to the decision by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to make a campaign stop in South Dakota Saturday on behalf of the candidate challenging Frist’s opposite number, Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D).

Daschle is focusing first on the June 1 special election in his state for the seat vacated by Republican Bill Janklow, whose prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter ended last week. Daschle began with a campaign rally for Democratic nominee Stephanie Herseth last night and ends his break with a daylong trek around the state with Herseth on Memorial Day.

Today, Daschle is hosting his annual technology summit in Sioux Falls, which brings together local and national firms.

On Tuesday, Daschle will be in Rapid City and Sioux Falls campaigning with former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), and Wednesday he’ll be in Rapid City as well, before taking a couple of personal days.

Frist’s travels began in Chicago Friday night with an event for GOP Senate nominee Jack Ryan. He was then scheduled to head to South Dakota for events with former Rep. John Thune (R-S.D.), who is challenging Daschle. After almost two months of keeping mum on the issue, Thune’s campaign announced last Thursday that Frist would tour Ellsworth Air Force Base — an invitation that Daschle extended to his counterpart when he learned of the Frist campaign trip. South Dakotans fear that Ellsworth may be closed in the latest round of base closings.

On Sunday, Frist was campaigning in Washington state for Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.), who’s running against Sen. Patty Murray (D). From there, Frist was scheduled to do campaign and fundraising events for former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, who is running against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), and for Rep. David Vitter (R-La.), who is running to succeed retiring Sen. John Breaux (D). He’ll also attend a fundraiser in Texas for Thune that’s being hosted by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Paul Kane contributed to this report.