Parties Get Busy Over This Recess

Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:15pm

There was a time not so long ago, when a recess break early in an election cycle offered Members a welcome respite from the politics of Capitol Hill.

But these days the Congressional campaign committees wouldn’t think of letting a recess week go by without getting in a few licks on targeted incumbents.

On Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced the launch of its “Independence Day ad campaign— targeting seven Republicans who voted against the Iraq and Afghanistan war supplemental bill. The 60-second radio ads will run July 1 through July 8.

The targeted Republican Members are Reps. Ken Calvert (Calif.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Dan Lungren (Calif.), Michael McCaul (Texas), Lee Terry (Neb.) and Joe Wilson (S.C.).

“It’s become expected in recent years that when targeted Republican Members go home to their districts they will be greeted by their failures on the radio and often the ad will be keeping with the theme of the holiday,— one former DCCC staffer said last week.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee plans to go on the offensive this week by targeting certain districts with automated calls and a combination of paid media, according to committee aides. The NRCC plans to hit vulnerable Democratic districts with the Members’ votes from the end of last week for the climate change legislation, or the “cap-and-trade— bill.

Republican consultant Ed Patru, a former NRCC staffer, said the GOP committees are likely airing advertisements earlier than in the past because it helps with recruitment.

“The reason for doing that is you’re in the minority now as opposed to in the majority, so the recruitment aspect is very important,— Patru said. “Sending the message to the Congressional districts that the national party is paying attention and they’re not going to leave any challenger candidate stranded, that helps with the recruitment.—

Patru added that airing advertisements during recess also keeps Democratic Members playing defense in front of their constituents “instead of driving home whatever message that Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi send him home with.—

And while Members defend their turf at home during recess, Congressional leaders will use the next week to raise money in fundraising hot spots around the country and in their home states.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) is hosting a fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday to benefit the re-election campaign of recently converted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.). While the DSCC is backing Specter, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) has indicated he will challenge the new Democrat in the primary.

In addition to the $1,000-per-person event for Specter, Menendez also has a fundraiser to benefit the DSCC’s coffers today in New York.

Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) will be in his home state all week, with a mix of official events and fundraising activities for the NRSC, according to an aide.

As of Friday afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) did not have any public events scheduled this week, according to their offices. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office announced a schedule that included trips to Texas, Colorado and Arizona.

Hoyer plans to be in Denver on Monday to raise funds for freshman Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.) and on Tuesday Hoyer will attend a fundraiser in Arizona for second-term Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.). He’ll also appear at a breakfast to benefit freshman Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.).

NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) has planned trips to Orange County, Calif., and Los Angeles to raise money for his committee, according to aides. He will also head to Houston and Las Vegas to raise money for the NRCC.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will be headlining several fundraising events for candidates on the West Coast and in his home state of Ohio, although his political aide declined to divulge any more specifics on his schedule in advance of his trip.