It may be too early for Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) to begin campaigning openly for the Appropriations Committee gavel in the next Congress, but it’s not too early for the two veteran cardinals to step up their fundraising efforts.
While both lawmakers were already adept at raising cash, the prospect of a highly competitive race for one of the most powerful chairmanships in the House means that Lewis’ and Rogers’ efforts on behalf of the party will be watched closely by members of the Republican Steering Committee over the next year and a half.
At the same time, neither Member will confess to actively seeking the job yet.
“That’s down the pike,” Rogers said of a potential race between him and Lewis, adding that he saw raising money for the party as part of his normal responsibilities.
“I just think that being a cardinal is in effect a leadership position. I feel an obligation to help the party pick up seats.”
Lewis made similar comments about his fundraising.
“I think we should all be helping and participating regardless of an issue like” a chairmanship race, Lewis said.
The California lawmaker emphasized that he supported “regular order,” a reference to the fact that he is currently third on the seniority list behind current term-limited Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio).
But the fact that few GOP observers expect Regula to be a candidate for the gavel means that Lewis and Rogers are seen as the leading contenders.
Until recently, “I never even dreamed that I had a chance to be chairman of Appropriations,” Lewis said.
As of March 31, Lewis had $1.1 million on hand in his campaign account and another $78,000 parked at his leadership committee, the Future Leaders PAC. Rogers, meanwhile, reported $975,000 in the bank for his re-election committee on March 31, and as of April 30 he had $73,000 available at his Help America’s Leaders PAC.
Lewis has held three personal campaign events since March, including a high-profile gathering at the Capitol Hill Club in early May that was said to be well-attended by Appropriations lobbyists and staffers. Lewis has also held four small events for his political action committee.
The Californian served as a “team leader” for the NRCC’s March dinner, bringing in more than $100,000 for the event, according to an aide. As of last week, Lewis had $60,000 in hand and commitments for another $15,000 for tonight’s President’s Dinner.
Rogers, meanwhile, has raised $214,000 so far this year for his PAC. He has held a total of 11 events for the committee since the end of February, including ones in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Mobile, Ala.
The lawmaker has also co-hosted fundraisers for GOP Reps. Henry Brown (S.C.) and Don Sherwood (Pa.), and he is scheduled to appear for Reps. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and Tom Latham (R-Iowa) in June.
Rogers has given $26,000 to the NRCC so far this year and has raised a total of $50,000 for the President’s Dinner.
Rogers is being aided in his fundraising activities by several Washington operatives who serve on the advisory committee of HAL PAC. They include ex-Rep. Jack Fields (R-Texas) of the Twenty-First Century Group, Charlie Grizzle of The Grizzle Co., Steve Hart and Susan Hirschmann of Williams & Jensen, Todd Hauptli of the American Association of Airport Executives, ex-Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) of The Livingston Solomon Group, Jim May of the Air Transport Association, Wally Burnett of Denny Miller & Associates and David Whitestone of Holland & Knight.