RNC Transfers $2 Million to NRSC for Chambliss Race

Posted November 19, 2008 at 11:32am

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) can look forward to a $2 million boost in his Dec. 2 runoff against former state Rep. Jim Martin (D).

The Republican National Committee transferred $2 million Tuesday to the National Republican Senatorial Committee specifically for Chambliss’ race, NRSC Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

At least $3 million in NRSC funds have gone to the Georgia race, Ensign said, including $1.5 million the week before Election Day in the Peach State race that was originally expected to be a slam-dunk for Republicans.

“I feel very good about the way the RNC, the NRSC and the Chambliss campaign are working together,” Ensign said. “We obviously feel great about the RNC and the help that they’ve given us.”

Ensign also said he will leave his committee in the hands of NRSC Chairman-elect John Cornyn (Texas) with $4 million in debt, mostly because of final-hour spending in close races like the one in Georgia. Ensign said he inherited an NRSC with $2 million in debt from the 2006 cycle.

Ensign, the newly elected GOP Policy Committee chairman, also expressed confidence about Sen. Norm Coleman’s (Minn.) re-election, in which the Republican holds a 215-vote lead over comedian Al Franken (D). The slim margin has prompted an automatic recount in the Gopher State, a process that Ensign believes will not change the final outcome for Coleman.

“I feel pretty confident because of the scrutiny that’s gone into the counting so far that we should be able to come out of this on top,” he said.

Ensign also effectively conceded Alaska, which the Associated Press called for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) on Tuesday night. Ensign said he had hoped that convicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) would have won, that the Senate GOP Conference would have expelled him, and that Alaska would have held a special election to replace him — a contest that would have likely favored a GOP candidate in the traditionally Republican state. Republicans were set to vote on expelling Stevens from the Senate on Tuesday, but held off while election returns in Alaska later that evening resulted in Begich’s victory.

“I would rather have to deal with a special election because holding that seat would have been very good for us,” Ensign said. “I was obviously hoping that he would have ended up on top and if he would have ended up on top, I think … we would have expelled him at that point and we would have held a special election. That’s what I was hoping for.”

Ensign said he had no plans to communicate with the Stevens campaign and would leave the decision to request a recount to the six-term Senator, who was found guilty on seven felony charges last month. Under Alaska election law, Stevens can request a recount at his own expense.