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Senators Look Past August’s Fundraising Dog Days

Seeking to take advantage of the month-long legislative hiatus, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.) has left GOP Senators with a bit of homework: a call list to help solicit donations for a major September fundraising dinner.

The Senate Majority Dinner will feature Vice President Dick Cheney and is expected to raise several million dollars for the NRSC.

“Every Senator has a list of good donors that they can call,” Allen said. “They can call them one a day through the whole month or they can call them all in one day.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are also gearing up for their own autumn fundraising event Sept. 9 — an issues forum with 30 Senators that Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials estimate could raise $1 million for the 2004 campaign.

In the coming weeks, Allen and his counterpart, DSCC Chairman Jon Corzine (N.J.), will handle the bulk of their respective party’s fundraising duties, allowing their colleagues to savor a few weeks vacation, tend to their own re-election campaigns or engage in campaign activities for others in their own states.

“People are kind of in a vacation mood,” said Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (Ky.), a former two-term NRSC chairman. McConnell said the bulk of his time will be spent stumping for Rep. Ernie Fletcher, the Bluegrass State Republican gubernatorial candidate, as well as “taking some personal time.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he is “going to be overseas” and doesn’t plan on engaging in any campaign activities. But he penned a letter dated July 21 asking donors to cut a $5,000 check for the Sept. 24 dinner to be held at the National Building Museum.

“This dinner — The Senate Majority Dinner — is always one of the most important of the fall,” Frist wrote prospective donors.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will travel throughout his state in what has become an annual rite: mingling with constituents during a driving tour. This year, Daschle has added a wrinkle to his plans by posting a daily travel diary on his Senate Web site.

“Every year, my annual driving tour is filled with interesting experiences and amazing people,” Daschle said in a statement released by his office. “I have been looking for a way to share those experiences with the people of South Dakota. And a web log seems like a great way to accomplish that goal — it lets people follow along with me as I travel the state.”

Daschle is seeking another term next year, as are two of his top deputies, Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (N.D.). Both Dorgan and Reid will spend the majority of their time in their states preparing for the 2004 elections.

Still, a handful of other Democrats are stepping in to help Corzine on the fundraising circuit this month. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), chairwoman of the Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee, will help raise money for the DSCC at events that coincide with her summer book tour.

The DSCC will also hold a retreat on Michigan’s Mackinac Island that will feature Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), vice chairwoman of the DSCC, and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D).

“Hillary is doing a book tour and events, and I have a handful of events,” Corzine said. “We have got things happening.”

For his part, Allen said he is scheduled to appear at NRSC events in Georgia, Indiana and New York.

“The reality is a lot of people are on vacation,” Allen said. “[August] is a harder month to raise money,” he said. “September is a much better month to raise money.”

Chris Cillizza contributed to this report.

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