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Pelosi Urges Members to Pay DCCC Dues Now

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), the fundraising cornerstone for House Democrats, made an impassioned plea to her Caucus members Wednesday to step up their contributions to the party by the session’s end.

Pelosi told Members in their private weekly session they must pay their Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dues in the coming weeks. She and DCCC Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) are turning up the heat on Member giving now because the beginning of November marks one year from the 2004 elections and a time when the party typically makes a strong end-of-the-year push.

A Democratic leadership aide said the Minority Leader told Members: “If we want to win, everybody has to participate and give money.”

Pelosi made a similar pitch, just hours later, to the ranking committee members, urging them and their panel members to contribute.

The requests were made with less than two months remaining in the year, which can be a difficult time for parties to raise money with the holidays and district time dominating Members’ attention.

Another Democratic leadership aide said Pelosi is pushing now because Member giving — which has been strong most of the year — has been falling flat recently, and she wants to remind House Democrats how important it is to contribute.

“Certain Members are sitting on large sums of money who have not given,” said one Democratic leadership aide.

Pelosi, who spends most of her non-Capitol Hill time raising money, told the Caucus it needs to get serious about taking back the majority. Pelosi has raised $12 million for the DCCC so far this year.

“We decided, let’s move, we’ve got two and a half weeks [remaining in the session]. We better ratchet this up,” Matsui said. “We want them to pay their dues before they leave.”

He said that to date about two-thirds of 205 Democratic House Members have paid some dues, which vary by Member. Matsui added that the DCCC does not have a total-dollar goal in mind for the dues.

House Democrats have raised $20 million in 2003, compared to House Republicans, who have raised $58 million. At the end of the previous quarter, the National Republican Congressional Committee had $8.7 million on hand and the DCCC had nearly $6.5 million.

Matsui has said House Democrats hope to raise $50 million to $60 million this cycle.

One senior Democratic aide characterized Pelosi’s speech as a broad push to work on behalf of the party. “She said she’s been doing it over and over again going out there on behalf of the Caucus. Members have to get involved and remain committed to this. You can’t just do it once, you’ve got to keep doing it.”

Kori Bernards, spokeswoman for the DCCC, said “it’s not unusual” for the Minority Leader to make such a pitch at this point in the year. She said the plea fits with House leaders’ strategy to keep fundraising equally distributed among Members, political action committees, individuals and direct marketing.

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