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Endangered Texans Join Forces for Fundraising

The five most threatened Democrats in the Texas House delegation have formed a special joint fundraising committee to help raise money to save their jobs, and several key House Members are hosting a series of fundraisers in the coming months to help them.

The news comes as the Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not consider challenges to the new Congressional boundaries that the Republican-led Texas Legislature drew last fall.

Reps. Martin Frost, Charlie Stenholm, Chet Edwards, Max Sandlin and Nick Lampson, all of whom face major re-election hurdles this cycle in the wake of their state’s new redistricting map, on March 4 organized the Texas Fund, a joint fundraising committee. The committee allows the five Democrats to raise money as a group.

Frost, who arguably faces the toughest re-election bid among the Texas five against incumbent GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, said House Democratic leaders encouraged the Texas lawmakers to create the Texas Fund as a way to help them raise more money this cycle. Joint fundraising committees are not usual, although it is it is rare for one committee to benefit five candidates.

“Some of our colleagues approached us and thought it would be a good idea,” said Frost, who led the Texas Democrats’ opposition to the Republican redistricting plan. “A number of our colleagues wanted to help because they were so outraged by what [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay [R] did in Texas.”

New York Democratic Reps. Charlie Rangel, Nita Lowey and Steve Israel hosted the first Texas Fund event Monday in New York. On May 12, the ranking committee Democrats, led by Rep. John Dingell (Mich.), will hold a fundraiser in Washington, D.C.

In June, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) will host an event in Los Angeles and Reps. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) will hold another fundraiser in Chicago. Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) is also working on hosting a New Jersey fundraiser for the Texas Fund.

Frost said the major fundraising push begins now — at the start of the second quarter — and will span through June 30. He said it is unclear whether additional fundraisers will be held beyond the five already in the works.

“We are very pleased that our colleagues want to help us,” Frost said. “They want to help us hold on to these seats. And they know we have to raise significant money.”

Frost acknowledged the important role the Texas elections will play in the Democrats’ efforts to take back the House this cycle. Losses there would make it nearly impossible for the minority party to regain control [see related article, p. 9]. Texas is seen as security for Republicans, who may be able to use the Lone Star State to retain their majority even if they sustain defeats elsewhere.

“This is really where the rubber meets the road,” Frost said.

Frost said with the help of fellow House Members, the Texas Fund will help raise money from new and different individual donors and political action committees — those the five Texas Members may not otherwise have targeted. Members, he said, will be tapping into their districts and contributors to help the Texans.

Under Federal Election Commission rules, a PAC could give as much as $25,000 to the Texas Fund, while an individual could give as much as $10,000. The money would be split evenly among the five lawmakers.

Through March 31, the fund had raised just $24,000 and spent $350.

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