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Democrats Slow on Dues

Four months into the 2006 election cycle, just two House Democrats have paid their entire party dues and more than half have yet to shell out a penny to help put the minority back in charge.

According to the latest Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tally obtained by Roll Call, 103 Members had not cut checks to the party by April 25. While most Members on the list are in the rank and file, it also includes the third-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Bob Menendez (N.J.), whose dues level is $400,000.

The Caucus chairman, who has $2.5 million in the bank and has a record of strong party giving, has recently been touted as a possible successor to New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine (D), who is favored to win the governorship later this year.

Menendez spokesman Matt Miller insisted that despite his failure to give to the party so far, his boss remains as supportive as ever.

“Bob Menendez has been a strong financial supporter of the DCCC since he came to Congress and has traveled the country extensively on behalf of candidates,” Miller said. “He will continue to be a leader in the fight to take back the House.”

Other top party leaders have begun paying off their dues more quickly. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has shelled out $215,000, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) has given $100,000. Both belong to the $600,000 dues level.

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) has met $100,000 of his $400,000 requirement, while Caucus Vice Chairman Jim Clyburn (S.C.) has paid $35,000 of his $400,000 dues.

Other leaders who owe $400,000 this cycle include Rep. John Spratt (S.C.), the Assistant to the Minority Leader, who has paid $50,000; Rep. George Miller (Calif.), co-chairman of the Steering and Policy Committee, who has paid $25,000; and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), another steering co-chairwoman, who has yet to pay any dues.

In the meantime, some rank-and-file Members are also making an early showing. New York Reps. Nita Lowey, a former DCCC chairwoman, and Steve Israel have met their entire dues requirements for the cycle. Lowey shelled out her $250,000 dues, and Israel met his $150,000 obligation.

“We are in great shape on member dues,” said DCCC spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg. “Member giving has been generous and helped us reach a record fundraising level for the first quarter.”

DCCC officials are confident that even though some Members have yet to pony up, the level of support from the Caucus will continue to grow as the cycle proceeds.

“Dues act as suggested levels of support for the DCCC,” Feinberg said. “While were very thankful to Members who have already started to contribute, we realize it’s very early in the cycle.”

Several other House Democrats showed solid first-quarter giving, having each paid $50,000 to the DCCC. Appropriations ranking member David Obey (Wis.), Financial Services ranking member Barney Frank (Mass.) and ethics committee ranking member Alan Mollohan (W.Va.) have each met that mark. Obey and Frank owe $300,000 apiece, while Mollohan owes $250,000 this cycle.

Also giving $50,000 so far are Rep. Hilda Solis (Calif.), an Energy and Commerce subcommittee ranking member; Nydia Velázquez (N.Y), the ranking member on Small Business; exclusive committee members Marion Berry (Ark.), Jay Inslee (Wash.) and Doris Matsui (Calif.); and Reps. Tom Udall (N.M.), David Wu (Ore.) and Adam Smith (Wash.).

Following close behind is Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), who has given $40,000 of his $100,000 requirement.

Matsui — who earlier this year succeeded her late husband, who was DCCC chairman in the 2004 cycle — leads the freshman class in Member giving.

Even though half the Caucus is holding onto their checkbooks, dozens of other Democratic Members have given at least $25,000.

Four of the eight Chief Deputy Minority Whips have paid at least $25,000 of their $250,000 dues, including John Tanner (Tenn.), Diana DeGette (Colo.), Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.). Crowley and Schakowsky are vying with Rep. John Larson (Conn.) for the job of Caucus vice chairman.

Also, 10 ranking members have paid at least $25,000 toward their $200,000 payments, including Reps. Jane Harman (Calif.) of Intelligence, Tom Lantos (Calif.) of International Relations, Juanita Millender-McDonald (Calif.) of Administration, James Oberstar (Minn.) of Transportation, Bennie Thompson (Miss.) of Homeland Security and Henry Waxman (Calif.) of Government Reform.

Even Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson (Minn.), who neglected to pay his dues for years, is making good now, having paid $25,000 so far. Peterson had promised Pelosi last year that he would contribute to the party and be a Caucus participant if given the top Agriculture job.

Among the exclusive subcommittee ranking members who owe $250,000 this cycle, Reps. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Norm Dicks (Wash.), Sander Levin (Mich.), Ed Markey (Mass.) and John Murtha (Pa.) have met or exceeded the $25,000 mark.

Fourteen other House Democrats sitting on both exclusive and regular committees have paid $25,000 so far.

Democrats’ dues for the two-year period range from $100,000 to $600,000 per Member, depending on leadership roles, committee assignments and the Member’s ability to raise funds. The most threatened House Democrats are given a waiver on Member giving.

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