The Republican National Committee will donate $1 million to the party’s Senate campaign arm to help erase its remaining debt from the 2004 cycle, according to RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.
The donation to the National Republican Senatorial Committee is the “first step” in an RNC effort to broaden GOP majorities in the House and Senate in 2006, Mehlman said in an interview Monday.
“There is no higher priority for the RNC than to protect and maintain and work to expand our majorities in Congress,” said Mehlman. “An important step in that process is making sure neither committee has a debt.”
As of Nov. 22, the NRSC showed approximately $500,000 in arrears, but knowledgeable sources indicated that the committee’s debt had risen to roughly $2.5 million by year’s end.
In addition to the $1 million RNC donation, the NRSC raised $4 million in January alone.
NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) “is thrilled that we have had such a prolific start on the fundraising side and appreciates the RNC’s commitment to maintaining and growing our majority in the United States,” spokesman Brian Nick said.
The National Republican Congressional Committee will not receive a major contribution from the RNC. It zeroed out its $3 million debt before closing the books on 2004.
However, the House Republican campaign committee did receive roughly $1 million more than the NRSC from the Joint Campaign Committee, a fund established through the RNC that allows donors to write a single check that is then parceled out to the party’s organizations, last cycle.
NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti said the committee was pleased with the commitment that the RNC and the White House had shown to its candidates in past years and did not feel envious of the NRSC because of the donation.
“The RNC and the White House were very helpful in 2004, and we look for them to be even more helpful in 2006,” he said.
But not every House Republican was as sanguine.
A GOP operative who requested anonymity said the donation gave the appearance that Mehlman “has started out his tenure by playing favorites.”
The RNC ended 2004 with approximately $14.7 million in the bank after raising $247 million last year alone, according to Communications Director Brian Jones.
Mehlman emphasized that while money is a major part of the assistance the RNC will be giving to its House and Senate counterparts, it will hardly be the only thing his organization will be doing.
“You will see us focusing on voter registration in vulnerable incumbents’ districts, working to recruit candidates and working to build a grass-roots effort like we did in the past,” Mehlman said.
Since being elected chairman in January, Mehlman has said repeatedly that the fundraising and grass-roots network built to re-elect President Bush will be a major help to House and Senate Republicans in 2006.
On the Democratic side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee erased its $3.6 million debt last month thanks to $1 million donations from the Democratic National Committee and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.
The financial picture was much less bright for House Democrats. In its post-election report with the Federal Election Commission, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee showed a debt of $10 million — the largest money hole for any party committee in history. That debt was partially balanced by the committee’s nearly $5 million on hand.