Nation: House Leaders Badger Members to Pay Dues

Posted October 22, 2008 at 6:32pm

Democratic House leaders called out their deadbeat Members on Wednesday, issuing one final plea for the rank and file to step up financially in order to help the party maximize its gains on Election Day.

In a memo to the Democratic Caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and the entire Democratic leadership, including Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), asked Members to help raise the additional $9.3 million the DCCC believes it needs for the final two-week push. The memo states that $12 million in Member dues remains outstanding.

Attached to the memo was a list of Members who have fulfilled 50 percent or less of their party dues and fundraising expectations.

“Please encourage them to be a part of the team,” the leaders wrote. “The number of seats we gain will depend on the resources we have to compete in these closing days.”

Topping the list of laggards were four exclusive subcommittee chairmen: Reps. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), Alan Mollohan (W.Va.) and Bart Stupak (Mich.), all of whom have failed to come close to meeting their $250,000 dues goal for the election cycle or their goal of raising an additional $250,000 for the DCCC.

Gutierrez and McDermott have each paid $50,000 in dues; Mollohan and Stupak have paid nothing. Both McDermott and Mollohan had less than $100,000 left in their campaign accounts as of Sept. 30, and both lawmakers have had to pay expensive legal bills in recent years.

The two Members with the largest war chests who have yet to pony up anywhere near what they are expected are Reps. Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii) and Donald Payne (N.J.).

Both are non-exclusive subcommittee chairmen and have a goal of $150,000 in dues plus an additional goal of raising $100,000 for the DCCC. Abercrombie had more than $1.2 million in campaign cash on Sept. 30 and Payne had more than $1 million. Neither Democrat faces a difficult re-election race. Abercrombie had paid $50,000 in dues and Payne had paid $75,000.

The DCCC ended September with a $41.3 million to $17.4 million cash on hand advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee.

DCCC Spending Spikes in Many Key Contests

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made a major investment in its effort to defeat Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) this week, dropping more than $566,000 on media buys, bringing the committee’s total investment in the race to more than $1 million.

Kirk, who has been the top fundraiser this cycle among Republican incumbents, is facing a rematch from 2006 with marketing consultant Dan Seals (D). Seals came close to ousting the moderate Republican last time, even though the national party spent very little to help boost Seals in the cost-prohibitive Chicago media market.

The ad buy this week confirms that won’t be the case this time around.

As of Wednesday, the DCCC had invested more than $1 million in 13 races across the country, seven of which are GOP-held open seats and four of which feature Republican incumbents.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has yet to top $1 million in spending on any one race, but is getting close. This week the committee dropped major money on TV ads in the districts held by embattled Reps. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.). The NRCC’s total investment in Walberg’s district was at $962,000 as of Wednesday and had reached more than $800,000 in Musgrave’s district. Both Democrats and Republicans also dropped significant resources into the race in Washington’s 8th district, where Rep. Dave Reichert (R) is trying to hang on, according to spending reports filed this week.

The NRCC is pulling its resources out of the race to re-elect Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) following controversial comments the lawmaker made late last week.

Earlier this year, the NRCC reserved more than $638,000 worth of TV advertising in the district, but an NRCC source confirmed Wednesday that the reservation had been pulled and the money reallocated.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Friday, Bachmann said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) may have anti-American views and said she welcomed an investigation into possible anti-American views of Members of Congress.

Following her appearance and the maelstrom it created, Bachmann’s opponent, former state Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg (D), raised more than $1 million for his campaign.