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Ways and Means Gavel Race on Display This Weekend

House Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.), who is hoping to hold on to his gavel in the 112th Congress, is continuing to ramp up his fundraising efforts by hosting a big-ticket event in Mackinac Island this weekend.

Levin, who took the lead on the tax-writing panel earlier this year after Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) stepped aside, is hosting the fundraiser for his leadership political action committee, GOAL PAC.

Almost two dozen corporate executives and trade association officials are expected to attend the event, according to a recent attendees list compiled by Molly Allen Associates’ Jaime Gershberg.

Linda Banton of Lockheed Martin Corp., Steve Biegun of Ford Motor Co., Tom Jolly on behalf of Aflac Inc., Reilly O’Connor of the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America Inc. and Michael Williams of Credit Suisse Group are all slated to show up. Eli Joseph of Merck & Co., Susan Pettit of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Lynn Thomson of General Electric Co. are also on the list.

The fundraiser costs $2,400 for individuals or $5,000 for PACs, according to a recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising list.

Levin’s weekend begins with a welcome reception Friday evening. Saturday features a cocktail reception and private dinner hosted by GOAL PAC. Mark Mellman, president and CEO of the Mellman Group, is the special guest for the affair.

“We decided to leave much of Saturday open so you can see and experience a true Michigan treasure,” Gershberg wrote in an e-mail last week.

Levin has tried to increase his fundraising profile in recent months as he looks to fend off a challenge from Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) for the Ways and Means chairmanship. Neal is sixth in seniority on the committee.

So far, Levin has met his fundraising dues goal for the 2009-10 cycle for the DCCC. According to a recent DCCC spreadsheet, Levin has given the committee nearly $341,000 and raised more than $350,000 for the party panel. He has also raised and contributed nearly $609,000 to “Frontline” and “Red to Blue” candidates. Neal has contributed $250,000 and raised nearly $620,000 for the DCCC. He has also given or raised $245,000 to Frontline and Red to Blue candidates, according to the same dues sheet.

Levin Chief of Staff Hilarie Chambers and Neal spokesman William Tranghese did not respond to e-mail requests for comment.

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