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Cole NRCC Memo: We Came Through the Fire Stronger

In a memo to his GOP colleagues in which he asks them to grant him another term at the helm of the National Republican Congressional Committee, NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) makes his case on the grounds that Tuesday’s loss of approximately 20 seats amounted to a victory of sorts given the toxic political environment for Republicans and predictions that the House GOP Conference would lose well in excess of 30 seats.

The memo, obtained by Roll Call, was sent to Republican House Members Wednesday afternoon. In making a case for a second term as chairman, Cole discusses the myriad challenges he faced upon assuming command of the committee from Rep. Tom Reynolds (N.Y.), including an $18 million debt, the outbreak of a scandal revolving around the NRCC’s former treasurer, and the fact that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outspent the NRCC 4-1 on independent expenditure advertising.

Cole said his priorities for the 2010 cycle would include “two main areas of focus”: flipping Democratic-held seats and preparing for redistricting following the 2010 Census. Cole wants to establish a special department within the NRCC to focus on the upcoming redistricting process.

To win Democratic seats in President-elect Obama’s first midterm year, Cole places an equally high priority on “aggressive fundraising,” candidate recruitment, and “defining the Democrats.”

Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), who ran for NRCC chairman in 2006 but lost to Cole, is expected to mount another run for the post. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) is also talked about as a potential candidate. But unlike Sessions, he has never expressed any formal interest in the position, and might have his eyes on another position within leadership.

“There’s no doubt we started this election cycle as the underdog. This year’s political environment for Republicans was far more toxic than two short years ago. The President’s approval ratings were the lowest in recorded history, we experienced an economic meltdown unparalleled since the Great Depression just weeks prior to Election Day and saw right track/wrong direction numbers stuck in single digits in many of our most competitive races,” Cole writes in his appeal for votes in the upcoming leadership elections.

“The last two years have presented the NRCC challenges no one could have anticipated,” Cole continues. “Yet together, against all odds, we persevered and came through the fire stronger. I believe the path of reform and rebuilding is never easy, but is one that always brings forth victory. That is why I am running for re-election as NRCC Chairman and ask you to allow me to finish the important progress we’ve made toward rebuilding the Committee and restoring our status as the majority party.”

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