Rep. John Murthas (D-Pa.) campaign is shaking the Beltway money tree for last-minute help in his unexpectedly close re-election fight.
In an e-mail sent Thursday afternoon to defense industry lobbyists, a fundraiser for the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense made an urgent request for help.
Cong. Murtha is in a brutal re-election campaign, the appeal reads. The Swift Boaters have put up a candidate from Virginia and have raised millions of dollars against Cong. Murtha. In addition, other 527s and the [National Republican Congressional Committee] have spent millions to smear Cong. Murtha on TV, radio, and in newspapers. We need to raise another $1 million to compete. If you have contributed, thank you. We are asking all to MAX their campaign contributions: $5,000 PACs and $2,300 individual. We need money immediately.
The pitch comes as William Russell, the once long-shot Republican candidate, appears to have pulled within striking distance of Murtha. The recent turnaround comes after the veteran Pennsylvania Democrat started a media firestorm by calling his own constituents racists and rednecks.
Murtha is apparently leaving no stone unturned in a scramble to wrangle funds in the closing days of the race. He has raised more than $80,000 in the last three days from House Members and political action committees, federal election records show. That haul includes $7,000 in checks from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a longtime ally.
On Wednesday, Murtha hit up another base of support: liberal activists he has championed as a leading critic of the Iraq War.
In an e-mail to MoveOn.orgs list, he wrote: This year Ive spent most of my time campaigning and raising money for other Democrats, including presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), instead of myself. It worked in 2006, and we threw the Bush Republicans out. But now my own race is tight, so I am asking supporters for help. Can you chip in?
Matthew Murray contributed to this report.