Flinty GOP Senators Hindering NRSC Fundraising

Posted October 24, 2008 at 11:10am

Republican Senators are still not ponying up to the cash-strapped National Republican Senatorial Committee in a significant way, transferring a collective $2.7 million to the committee over the entire cycle.

According to NRSC fundraising totals obtained by Roll Call, some out-of-cycle Republican Senators are still sitting on piles of cash in their campaign accounts as their committee attempts to play defense in 12 competitive Senate races. Last cycle, the NRSC took in about $4.5 million in Member transfers, according to sources.

The NRSC is squeezed for funds compared to its Democratic counterpart as both committees enter the final 10-day push before Election Day. As of the end of September, the NRSC had $17.4 million in its bank account, compared to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s $26.3 million.

NRSC Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) has repeatedly exhorted his colleagues this cycle to give early and often to the committee, but his calls have often gone unheeded. At the end of August, Ensign announced that he would have to decrease the NRSC’s independent expenditure budget because “my call has gone largely unanswered.”

Although some Republicans stepped up to the plate, others like Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) have yet to transfer a dime. Shelby had $13.3 million in his campaign account as of Sept. 30 and had not donated a penny to the NRSC.

Other safe Republicans, such as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), who has indicated she will resign her seat before 2010, had $8.7 million in her campaign account at the end of September. Hutchison is interested in running for governor that year and can convert her federal funds to a gubernatorial campaign under state law.

Former Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) departure at the end of 2007 has resulted in yet another race for Republicans to defend this cycle. Lott has transferred $200,000 to the NRSC, though still has about $1 million in his campaign bank account as of the end of June.

Some GOP Senators have donated to the committee this cycle — including six running for re-election this year.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who was originally thought to be safe this cycle but now finds himself in a competitive re-election contest, has given $100,000 to the NRSC. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has expressed interest in running the NRSC next cycle, and has transferred $250,000 to the committee despite also running for re-election this year.

Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) transferred $85,000, Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.) transferred $250,000, Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) transferred $175,000, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) transferred $260,000.

Over the entire cycle, according to NRSC fundraising totals obtained by Roll Call, Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah) transferred $5,000, Sen. Kit Bond (Mo.) transferred $150,000, Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) transferred $100,000, retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) transferred $15,000, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) transferred $100,000, Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.) transferred $200,000, Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.) transferred $100,000, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) transferred $10,000, Sen. John Warner (Va.) transferred $30,000, and Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) transferred $15,000.

And in an effort to lead by example, Ensign’s own campaign has transferred $500,000 to the committee that he chairs.