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Frontline Meets Two-Year Goal in One

Having already surpassed their $1 million fundraising goal for protecting vulnerable incumbents, House Democrats are revising the program’s targets for the rest of the cycle.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said that in less than 12 months the party has raised $1,014,000 for the 19 “Frontline Democrats,” mostly through Member-to-Member donations. The leaders set up the Frontline program and tapped Menendez to head it earlier this year in an effort to collect money specifically for the retention of their most vulnerable Members.

The largest share of the money given to Frontline so far — $817,100 — comes from other Members. At this time last cycle, Member-to-Member giving accounted for $265,500 raised by those same 19 Democrats.

“I am ecstatic we reached the million-dollar mark we set for the entire cycle,” Menendez said. “We’re having success and we’ll continue to strengthen the capabilities of these individuals and hopefully ward off some of them from being seriously challenged.”

“This is part of the foundation [we’re laying] to a new majority,” he added.

Menendez and other leaders will work on setting a new fundraising target for the Frontliners. He said the new goal will likely be based on other 2004 Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee initiatives and the vulnerable incumbents’ financial needs.

“I don’t want to prejudge how much it will be,” the New Jersey Democrat said.

Frontline is similar to the House GOP’s Retain Our Majority Program, created by Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) in 2000.

Menendez insisted Democrats did not set the fundraising bar too low, but rather saw quick success with a persuading argument. The program’s activities included direct mail, Member-to-Member as well as industry-specific fundraisers, and a national donor program.

“I don’t think a million dollars is ever too low of a goal,” Menendez said. “We made a convincing argument to our colleagues who contributed a significant amount to the million-dollar goal. They have an understanding that this is the first step toward a majority and making sure our colleagues return.”

A DCCC spokeswoman also credited a good share of the Frontline success to overwhelming support from other Members, who were responsible for about 80 percent of the total.

On average, Frontline Members have raised $450,000 apiece so far this year for their re-elections and have $325,000 on hand.

The Members are: Texas Reps. Charlie Stenholm, Chet Edwards and Max Sandlin; Pennsylvania Reps. Paul Kanjorski, Joe Hoeffel and Tim Holden; freshmen Reps. Rodney Alexander (La.), Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Jim Marshall (Ga.) and Mike Michaud (Maine), and Reps. Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Baron Hill (Ind.), Darlene Hooley (Ore.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Ken Lucas (Ky.), Dennis Moore (Kan.) and Earl Pomeroy (N.D.).

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