Cole Willing to Take On More Debt Late in Cycle

Posted March 12, 2008 at 6:42pm

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said in an interview this week that he is willing to go into debt this November to win seats and defend GOP incumbents.

But Cole said he is not likely to approve the level of debt he inherited from former NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.). According to Cole, the NRCC paid off $14 million of debt in 2007 and still has an additional $1.8 million to go before the entirety of what is owed from 2006 is paid off.

“Debt is a part of the decision-making process that you’ll make late,” Cole said. “I don’t expect to go anywhere [near into debt] that we went last time. But debt is a component of our fall campaign, sure.”

Early on in this cycle, Cole praised Reynolds’ decision to borrow money down the stretch of the 2006 campaign, saying that doing so may have prevented even heavier Republican losses. But more recently, Cole has been critical of the level of debt, blaming it for the low cash-on-hand figure that has put the NRCC way behind the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in available funds throughout the cycle.

NRCC officials and individuals who worked for Reynolds at the committee in the previous cycle have disagreed both on the level of debt Cole inherited and the amount of cash left in the bank when he became chairman in January 2007.