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House GOP Halfway to ‘Battleground’ Targets

With six weeks left until Election Day, House Republicans have stepped up the pace of their Battleground 2004 effort to funnel money from incumbent lawmakers to key races around the country.

At Wednesday morning’s Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club, several Members delivered six-figure checks to the program. The session netted about $1 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee effort, bringing the Battleground account to $8.5 million. Sixty-one GOP lawmakers have now paid their requested amounts or more.

Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.), who co-chairs the Battleground effort with Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.), has set Oct. 1 as the deadline to reach the final goal of $16 million, meaning that the committee still needs to bring in about $7.5 million from Members this month.

“The Speaker and [NRCC Chairman] Tom Reynolds [N.Y.] asked me to do this and I’m not going to let them down,” Rogers said.

While Oct. 1 may be fast approaching, the NRCC’s main goal is simply to have the money in hand before Election Day.

“We are moving, I think, ahead of schedule,” Reynolds said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, retiring Rep. Jennifer Dunn (Wash.) gave the largest check: $250,000. She is one of several departing Members whom the leadership has asked to deliver their leftover campaign funds to the NRCC.

Rep. Ralph Regula (Ohio) gave a $150,000 check from his own account and also delivered checks from three of his fellow Ohio lawmakers. Regula is running for the Appropriations Committee chairmanship along with Reps. Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Hal Rogers (Ky.), both of whom have already filled their Battleground commitments.

Also handing in sizable checks on Wednesday were Reps. Wally Herger (Calif.), who gave $150,000, and Kay Granger (Texas), who handed in $100,000.

While Wednesday provided an opportunity for Members to pay up in front of their colleagues, other lawmakers have ponied up large amounts recently with less fanfare. Rep. Jim McCrery (La.), for example, gave $300,000 last week.

Some other high-profile Members, meanwhile, have chosen to wait until the deadline approaches before giving to Battleground. Prominent lawmakers who have not yet paid include Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (Fla.), Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (Texas) and Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (Calif.).