NRSC Race on Hold

Posted November 5, 2008 at 9:46am

With Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) re-election bid going into a recount and as many as two other Senate Republicans facing protracted election fights, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) plans to hold off on launching a bid to replace Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2010 cycle, a source close to Cornyn said.

In fact, the Republican National Committee already has begun organizing K Street allies and others in preparation for Coleman’s Minnesota recount against comedian Al Franken (D), which is expected to take place sometime this month.

The uncertainty surrounding Coleman’s race, coupled with possible recounts or run-offs in Oregon’s and Georgia’s Senate races, Cornyn’s camp decided early Wednesday to delay its campaign for the NRSC chairmanship until the political map is clearer.

“We were ready for an aggressive push starting today, but we’ve dialed it back a little bit based on the circumstances,” the Cornyn source said Wednesday, adding that “particularly with Norm in the mix, from [Cornyn’s] perspective it wouldn’t be appropriate.”

According to a source familiar with the NRSC’s recount efforts, Republican Party officials Wednesday morning began contacting supporters on K Street and elsewhere looking for volunteers who can commit time to working in Minnesota on the effort.

“Everybody has been putting the all-call out,” this source said, noting that while the NRSC has a budget for recounts, federal law also allows the campaign arms to set up new political action campaigns to fund those activities. Because those PACs are new, donors who have maxed out on the race can contribute money without running afoul of federal election laws.

As it stands now, Cornyn and Coleman are the only two Republicans interested in heading up the NRSC in the next cycle. Ensign is running to be the Republican Policy Chairman, a position currently held by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas). Hutchison has opted against serving another two-year term in order to pursue a likely gubernatorial bid.