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The NRSC’s Big Haul

Yield For Cheney Fundraiser Approaches $8M

In their largest event of the fall, Senate Republicans hope to rake in as much as $8 million at their ninth annual Senatorial dinner tonight.

The event had originally been slated to bring in between $5 million and $6 million. But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), given the primary fundraising assignment for the dinner, said Tuesday that the National Republican Senatorial Committee will bring in much more than that, although he declined to specify a total.

“We’re going to exceed our goal … maybe significantly exceed it,” he said.

When asked if the dinner would bring in $8 million, NRSC Chairman George Allen (Va.) replied, “Not too far from it.”

Vice President Cheney will be the guest of honor at the event, which will be held at the National Building Museum and is part of a two-day issues conference for the organization’s high-dollar donors.

The Senate committee’s take from the gathering is likely to rival the funds raised at the President’s Dinner in May, which featured President Bush and brought in roughly $8 million for the NRSC. The National Republican Congressional Committee, which sold more tickets to that event at the new Washington Convention Center, raised $14 million from it.

Alexander noted that Hurricane Isabel last week slowed down the processing of all the checks coming into the committee’s coffers.

“We were out of business Thursday and Friday so we’re trying to catch up,” he said.

Democrats latched onto Cheney’s appearance at the fundraiser to call into question Republicans’ financial connections to energy services giant Halliburton.

“The fact that Dick Cheney is the headliner for this dinner … says a great deal about the desperation of Republicans and the nature of who they are turning to to raise money,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Mike Siegel.

Prior to being selected as Bush’s running mate in 2000, Cheney served as CEO at Halliburton, a company that “stands to profit in any number of ways from this administration’s policies,” Siegel charged.

Rhetoric notwithstanding, the Cheney event is likely to further pad Senate Republicans’ financial advantage.

In reports recently filed with the Federal Election Commission documenting financial activity in August, the NRSC outraised the DSCC $1.9 million to $1.3 million.

The Republicans were also more frugal than their Democratic counterparts, spending roughly $600,000 less and retaining $6 million on hand to $1.8 million for the DSCC. The DSCC stood $2.9 million in debt at the end of August.

Despite the disparity, Siegel claimed the DSCC was pleased with its efforts, noting that Republicans traditionally have a fundraising edge.

“This year [Republicans] are going to need every dollar to paper over an absolutely horrible record on the economy and a reckless approach to foreign policy,” he said.

Senate Democrats have their own fall dinner coming up Oct.1 at Union Station. DSCC Chairman Jon Corzine (N.J.) will head that event.

Siegel would not provide an estimate of how much the committee would raise, but the DSCC brought in $3 million at a similar dinner in 2001.

On the House side, both campaign arms dished out more money than they raised last month.

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $4.2 million while expending $4.3 million; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought in $1.3 million and spent $1.9 million.

The NRCC has outraised the DCCC by a more than 3-1 margin this year but has also spent $37 million more on its election efforts.

Despite its heavy spending, the NRCC still maintained a cash-on-hand advantage. Republicans ended August with $7.2 million in the bank to the DCCC’s $4.6 million. The Democrats paid down approximately $400,000 of their debt, leaving them $3.3 million in arrears.

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