In the latest sign of Republican fundraising muscle, Senate Republicans are planning to raise as much as $6 million at a tribute to Vice President Cheney later this month.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee event at the National Building Museum is set for Sept. 24, during the committee’s Republican Presidential Roundtable Fall Policy Forum. Tickets for the ninth annual Senate Majority Dinner, which is being chaired by freshman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), cost $2,500 each.
“The goal … is we hope we can raise $6 million,” Alexander said of his first major political fundraising task since being elected to the Senate last November. Alexander added that rank-and-file GOP Senators are “working hard” to ensure the event meets its ambitious goals.
The two-day policy forum is one of three national meetings offered to members of the NRSC’s Presidential Roundtable. Annual membership in the program is $5,000 for an individual and $7,500 per couple.
On Sept. 25, forum participants will receive 2004 election updates from NRSC Chairman George Allen (Va.), as well as pollster John McLaughlin and tax reform advocate Grover Norquist. They will also hear from two panels made up of current GOP Senators.
The day will be capped with a reception and dinner at The Mount Vernon Inn, hosted by Allen and Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), who chairs the Presidential Roundtable.
Like Graham, Alexander is one of several Senate newcomers taking an active role in aiding the party committee this cycle. GOP freshmen Sens. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) are also heading NRSC member programs, which Allen has pegged as taking on greater importance with the implementation of new campaign finance laws.
Since the ban on soft money went into effect last November, there have been fewer of the blockbuster gala events than in the past. One exception was a dinner honoring President Bush in May that raised roughly $23 million, which was split between the NRSC and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Although Democratic Congressional leaders pushed for last year’s campaign finance reform bill, Republicans have benefited more from the changes in federal campaign financing laws. GOP campaign committees have raised more than $68 million so far this cycle, while their Democratic counterparts have taken in little more than $28 million.
Through the end of July, the NRSC had raised more than $16.5 million and showed a little more than $5 million in the bank. Its Democratic counterpart has raised $12.3 million so far this year and had $2.4 million left in cash at the end of July.
Still, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been hampered by money still owed from last cycle. At the end of July, the committee showed a debt of almost $3.5 million.
The Republican financial advantage is greater in the House, where the National Republican Congressional Committee outraised its Democratic counterpart roughly 4-to-1 in July.
DSCC spokesman Michael Siegel said the committee has a series of at least three fundraising events planned for the month of September, which he estimated would bring in a combined $1 million.
“We are quite happy with our fundraising pace so far,” Siegel said. “When the McCain-Feingold era started everyone counted the Democratic Party out.”
Siegel said Democrats feel confident that Republicans will need to raise and spend more money this cycle because they are out of step with voters.
“Republicans are always going to outraise us,” he said. “We have no illusions about that.”
Still, he added, “We feel very comfortable that we have the issues on our side.”