Lawmakers Anticipating Early Departure Forgo D.C. Fundraisers

Posted September 28, 2010 at 4:27pm

Updated: 6:55 p.m.

With lawmakers looking to leave Washington as early as Wednesday, House and Senate lawmakers are starting to cancel and postpone fundraising events.

The campaigns for Democratic Reps. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Rush Holt (N.J.) both announced cancellations Tuesday. Heinrich was scheduled to have a fundraiser Tuesday evening, and Holt canceled a breakfast for Friday.

“Due to the change in Congressional schedule, we had to cancel Friday’s event in Washington,” Holt’s spokesman, Chris Donnelly, said in an e-mail. He added that the lawmaker is still deciding whether to go forward with other events scheduled in Washington in the lead-up to the Nov. 2 general election.

The campaign of Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) sent out a notice that his Wednesday fundraiser at the Capitol Hill restaurant Art and Soul is postponed until November.

The cancellations came as Members seek last-minute campaign contributions before the Federal Election Commission’s third-quarter filing deadline of Thursday.

House Democrats are slated to host nearly 90 events Wednesday and Thursday, according to a recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee list. House Republicans had about 35 events scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, according to a National Republican Congressional Committee list released this month.

A Democratic campaign aide said it doesn’t make sense for Members to hold events after Congress finishes its business. “It does sort of seem common sense for Members if they aren’t going to be around and there aren’t votes scheduled,” the aide said. “Ultimately, it’s better for them to be back home.”

It became apparent this month that Congress is likely to adjourn at the end of September, but there are still several events organized for next month. Democrats have 20 fundraising events scheduled, and Republicans have a dozen planned for the first week in October.

Johnny’s Half Shell, a popular restaurant venue for fundraisers, is very busy this week, according to owner John Fulchino. “We usually do maybe six [fundraisers] a day, three lunches and three dinners, generally when we’re rolling,” Fulchino said.

Still, Fulchino said he is aware that a slowdown is coming. “Right now the first week of October looks good. … I’m nervous about October, hoping that we can navigate it and stay busy,” he said.