Dole Taps Newcomers for Key Roles

Posted January 25, 2005 at 5:51pm

Continuing the recent tradition of getting newly elected Senators involved in fundraising early and seeking to draw on momentum from the GOP’s 2004 gains, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) has tapped two of the previous cycle’s biggest success stories for key leadership positions at the committee.

Dole announced this week that Sens. John Thune (S.D.) and David Vitter (La.), both of whom were elected in 2004, will lead two of the committee’s fundraising programs this cycle.

“Both Senators Vitter and Thune represent such an outstanding class. … Bringing them into the fundraising apparatus of the NRSC is just a great benefit to the committee and both will do an outstanding job,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Nick.

Joining Vitter and Thune on the NRSC’s fundraising team are several Senate veterans, including Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) and Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

The Senators will head up the NRSC’s seven “member programs” — each devoted to different levels of giving for individuals and groups.

“I am thrilled we were able to assemble such a prolific fundraising group to chair our major programs,” Dole said in a statement. “Republicans are taking nothing for granted this cycle, and we will be aggressively moving forward to ensure that the resources are in place to maintain and grow our Majority.”

Thune will serve as chairman of the Inner Circle, which is devoted to lower-dollar donors. Dole served as chairwoman of the NRSC’s Inner Circle last cycle, after just being elected in 2002.

“The Senator appreciated the strong support of his now-Senate colleagues in the last election and wants to help add to the majority in two years,” said Thune spokesman Alex Conant.

Annual membership is $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples. Lifetime members pay $15,000 per individual or $20,000 per couple.

Vitter is the new chairman of the Presidential Roundtable, which is designed for mid-level donors. Membership is $5,000 for individuals and $7,500 for two people. Last cycle, the Roundtable was chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who, like Dole, won his seat in 2002.

Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.) is chairing the Senatorial Trust for the second consecutive cycle. The trust is made up of about 200 business and political leaders who must be nominated for membership and must be willing to donate at least $15,000 annually.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Sen. Kit Bond (Mo.) are co-chairing the Republican Senate Council, which focuses on outreach to political action committees and interest groups. Chambliss, who also was first elected in 2002, chaired the program last cycle.

Meanwhile, Dole, Frist and McConnell are heading up the three programs dedicated to high-dollar donors.

McConnell will lead the Quarterback Club, while Frist has aptly been tapped to head the Leader’s Alliance, a new program devised this cycle to target the highest-level donors.

Dole is overseeing the Majority Makers program.

Dole has not yet announced who will head the president’s dinner, a joint-fundraising venture with the National Republican Congressional Committee. Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) was charged with that duty last cycle.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) earlier this month announced an overhaul of the organizational structure of the committee.

Democrats scrapped the sole vice chairman’s position and instead appointed a team of five regional vice chairmen to oversee fundraising and candidate recruitment.

The Senators appointed to serve as regional chairmen are: Jack Reed (R.I.), Northeast; Barack Obama (Ill.), Midwest; Mark Pryor (Ark.), South; Ron Wyden (Ore.), Northwest; and Barbara Boxer (Calif.), West.

Democrats lost a net of four seats in the 2004 elections, and face a difficult political landscape again in 2006 as they defend 17 Democratic-held seats and one Independent.