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NRCC ‘Patriot Day’ to Benefit Five Incumbents

The National Republican Congressional Committee has a message for GOP Members: Save your cash for next year.

In an effort to show that the committee has moved to playing more offense than defense in the 2010 cycle, the NRCC will announce Wednesday that it will limit its next “Patriot Day— fundraising blitz to only a handful of GOP Members.

House GOP leaders will name the five incumbents who will benefit from the single-day fundraising campaign that raised almost $100,000 for each of the 10 original “Patriot— program members when it debuted in June.

The handful of Members is five fewer than the NRCC had previously advertised would participate in the fundraising event, which aims to collect checks from leadership, other Members and downtown.

“The political environment has shifted, and there just aren’t five more vulnerable Members who are really in need of assistance or facing a credible challenge,— said an NRCC aide with knowledge of the announcement. “That money would be better spent by directly transferring money to the committee and on assisting the large number of challenger candidates looking to oust a Democrat incumbent.—

NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas), Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and NRCC Incumbent Retention Chairman Mike Rogers (Mich.) are scheduled to announce the five beneficiaries at their weekly Conference meeting this morning at the Capitol Hill Club.

But according to the NRCC aide, GOP Reps. Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Patrick Tiberi (Ohio), Lee Terry (Neb.) and Tom Rooney (Fla.) have been selected to collect upward of $100,000 on the November fundraising day. All five of those GOP Members have drawn challengers, and national Democrats have indicated that they plan to target their districts in 2010.

State Sen. Tom White (D) announced this summer that he would challenge Terry, who won re-election with 52 percent in 2008. President Barack Obama carried the Omaha, Neb.-based district, making Terry an enticing target for Democrats next year.

Tiberi is being challenged by Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks (D) — his first credible challenger in several cycles in a district that Obama also carried last November. Tiberi was not on the original list of Patriot program participants released in July, when his participation was not public.

Bono Mack, Dent and Rooney have also picked up challengers in the past few months, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has indicated that it plans to target those three seats.

But other Members in the Patriot program who will not participate in the November fundraising event have either not acquired an opponent or the committee simply views them as no longer vulnerable enough to ask fellow GOP Members to donate precious resources to their campaigns.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), for example, does not have a Democratic opponent yet after winning his first term last year by a 4-point margin. House Democrats insist they are still in discussions with potential candidates in that district, but Luetkemeyer is favored to keep his seat in 2010.

House Republicans could host at least one other Patriot Day this cycle, so it is possible that more GOP Members could benefit from the program before Election Day next year.

Democrats, meanwhile, took House Republicans to task for raising funds for incumbents in a cycle in which they are expected to win seats in Congress.

“It speaks volumes about these Members that House Republicans need to give them $100,000 in a cycle they boast will be better than 1994,— DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said.