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House Democrats, DNC Pledge Millions for Midterms

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee picked up $1.7 million in member pledges at its quarterly caucus dinner Tuesday night.  

In addition, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel announced that the Democratic National Committee, an organization that struggled financially until this spring, had pledged to transfer $2 million to the DCCC for the midterms.  

The DCCC has walloped its counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, in fundraising this cycle. But House Democrats must net 17 seats to win control of the chamber — a nearly impossible task given the political climate and map.  

“We’ve been breaking every fundraising record but winning campaigns is expensive,” Israel said at the dinner, according to a source in the room. “We had 400,000 online donations in July and raised $7 million. This is an inspiration.”  

The DCCC dinner at Joe’s Seafood in downtown Washington, D.C., included Israel, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and about 50 members, according to several sources in the room. Israel, a New York Democrat, thanked DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was in attendance, according to several sources in the room.  

Hoyer and Reps. Loretta Sanchez of California and Dan Kildee of Michigan gave $100,000 checks for the dinner, along with smaller sums from Reps. Denny Heck of Washington, Robin Kelly of Illinois, David E. Price of North Carolina, Mike Quigley of Illinois and Marc Veasey of Texas.  

Hoyer, like the rest of top House Democratic leadership, paid his dues earlier this year.  

At the start of every cycle, the DCCC assigns each member a specific amount of dues to pay off before Election Day. The exact amount ranges based on leadership and committee assignments.  

The Tuesday night dinner pledges were mostly tied to these previously assigned dues. But in some cases members gave more; New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. anted up an additional $50,000 for the committee. Pallone is in a race with Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., to succeed retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman as the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  

Additionally, the DCCC announced six more freshman had paid off their dues. They were Reps. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Katherine M. Clark of Massachusetts, along with California Reps. Tony Cárdenas, Alan Lowenthal and Eric Swalwell.  

Pelosi also led a chorus of “Happy Birthday” in honor of Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, who turned 40 that day.  

House Republicans have their own tactics to round up dues. In June, a House GOP conference with members of leadership made pledges exceeding their dues. Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., used his skills as a former auctioneer to push members to up their ante.  

And Republican Reps. Kevin Brady of Texas, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, John Shimkus of Illinois and Steve Scalise of Louisiana — who are roommates in D.C. — have a housecleaning bet over rounding up NRCC dues.  

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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