Campaign committees

Campaign committees

DCCC targets Republicans over CBO projection, healthcare tax credits

Democrats have been taking plenty of hits on healthcare, but they are also seeking to play some offense too.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has seized on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate Thursday that the healthcare bill will cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 20 years.

Issuing strategic press releases in a few dozen districts, they are trying to cast the Republicans voting against the healthcare bill as voting against deficit reduction and tax credits for small businesses.

“Representative Michele Bachmann will soon have a chance to back up all of her tough talk about the need to reduce the deficit when the House votes on health insurance reform,” the DCCC says in a release targeting the Minnesota Republican. “Bachmann can either vote for health insurance reform, which will reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years or she can continue protecting the status quo for big insurance companies instead.”

Democrats note that tax credits to small business who offer healthcare are a popular concept, with 75 percent favoring the idea in a February Newsweek poll.

A DCCC release on that topic asks whether the GOP incumbent will “support tax relief 20,000 small businesses in his district” or side with big health insurance companies.


NRSC topped DSCC in February

The NRSC is starting to stock away money for what's looking to be a promising election cycle.

The committee raised a strong $4.6 million in February, compared to $4 million for the DSCC. The NRSC also banked $2.2 million of that, upping its cash on hand to $12.9 million, while the DSCC banked $1.3 million and had $14.3 million cash on hand.

The DSCC also has about $417,000 worth of debt left, meaning the NRSC trails by about $1 million when totals are adjusted for debt.

Totals for the House committees weren't available as of Friday afternoon.


Paton added to Young Guns

The NRCC has added former Arizona state Sen. Jonathan Paton to its Young Guns program.

Paton, who is challenging Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), has joined the first of three stages of the program -- on the radar.

"Jonathan is an accomplished, independent leader who will fight to put Arizonans back to work," NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said in a statement.

Paton is the second candidate in the primary who has made joined the program. Iraq veteran Jesse Kelly is also at the on-the-radar stage.


Dems hit GOP after House votes to ban misleading campaign mailers

Democrats on Thursday called on Republican leaders to clarify that mailers that resembled Census letters were not, in fact, official Census documents.

The call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) comes on the heels of a 416-0 House vote taken yesterday to ban misleading mailings.

The DCCC alleged that the letters, sent out by Republicans and signed by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and RNC Chairman Michael Steele, could discourage people from filling out their actual Census forms.

"[Boehner and Steele] have a responsibility to tell every Republican who received their fundraising solicitation that it is not an official U.S. Census form and encourage them to fill out their census form," DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said in a statement.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) issued a "census" letter earlier this year.

The DCCC's counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) also sent letters titled the "2010 Census of America's Republican Leadership" and asked recipients to fill out information regarding their political leanings. 

The NRCC and RNC have previously denied that the letters were misleading and repeated that stance Thursday.

"The NRCC remains opposed to misleading mailings, which is why we will continue to comply with the law," spokesman Paul Lindsay said in a e-mail.

"Just as the committee has done in the past, the RNC will continue to be in full compliance with the law," RNC spokesman Katie Wright said in an e-mail.

But one Republican staffer said that a Democratic National Committee mailer looks like a government document and called Democrats "pretty hypocritical" for criticizing the GOP.


GOP attorney general hits NRCC for robocalls

Indiana's Republican Attorney General is calling out the NRCC for running robocalls that he says violate the spirit of the law.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the NRCC's robocalls are "flouting" the law and disregarding a treaty reached by political parties inside the state. In January, the parties reached an agreement, solicited by Zoeller, to refrain from robocalls.

"I'm sorry to report that the National Republican Congressional Committee is the first to intentionally violate the treaty and show a lack of respect for the privacy of Hoosiers by blitzing them with unwanted political calls," Zoeller said. "This national group fails to appreciate what the three political parties in Indiana readily embraced: that unsolicited and unwanted calls on any subject are an annoying and ultimately counterproductive tactic that Hoosiers neither need nor want."

Zoeller's office notes that it is illegal for the NRCC to run automated dial robocalls, but that it is not illegal to have live operators ask for permission to play a recorded message.

It said that it contacted the NRCC and asked it to cease, and the NRCC declined.

"This national group and anyone considering similar activities should be on notice that the tactic of tiptoeing right up to the line of illegality in pursuit of short-term gain carries a public penalty as a violation of the Treaty of 2010," Zoeller said.

UPDATE: The NRCC reiterates that it is following the law.

"We felt it was important to make these calls so Hoosiers could let their Democratic Congressmen know that they do not want this healthcare bill rammed down their throats," NRCC spokesman Tom Erickson said.


DCCC puts 13 on Red to Blue campaign list

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has named the first 13 candidates to its Red to Blue program for challengers and open-seat races this cycle.

The 2010 class of the program includes:

-Ami Bera, who is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.)

-Steve Pougnet, who is challenging Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.)

-John Carney, who is running for Rep. Mike Castle’s (R-Del.) open seat

-Lori Edwards, who is running for Rep. Adam Putnam’s (R-Fla.) open seat

-Raj Goyle, who is running for Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s (R-Kan.) open seat

-Dan Seals, who is running for Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R-Ill.) open seat

-Tom White, who is running against Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.)

-Paula Brooks, who is running against Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio)

-John Callahan, who is running against Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)

-Bryan Lentz, who is running for Rep. Joe Sestak’s (D-Pa.) open seat

-Rob Miller, who is running against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)

-Roy Herron, who is running for Rep. John Tanner’s (D-Tenn.) open seat

-Suzan DelBene, who is running against Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.)

Democrats won’t have as robust a Red to Blue program as they've had in years past, thanks in large part to a challenging map that has put them on the defensive. But the DCCC has put a premium on staying on offense in at least some districts, thereby putting pressure on Republicans to spend money on them.

Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) are co-chairing the Red to Blue program.


For DSCC, encouraging signs in troubled waters

It’s not all doom and gloom at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Not yet.

For all the recent talk about Republicans potentially regaining their majority in 2010, Senate Democrats actually had a pretty decent week.

Maybe the bar is low after the first two months of 2010, but even with Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark.) new primary challenge, Democrats had some positive developments to point to.

It started with Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-Ky.) brazen and hazard-frought effort to prevent an extension of unemployment benefits. For Democrats looking to cast Republicans as obstructionists bent on saying ‘no,’ few things could be better than a cranky-old-senator type standing in the way of benefits for 10 percent of the population already crushed by economic hardship.

On top of that, two major potential challengers to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) – former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) and New York Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman – both stepped aside. Polling has since showed Gillibrand, at long last, improving her political standing in the state.

Polling has also shown that Indiana is hardly a slam dunk for the GOP. A Research 2000 poll for the liberal website Daily Kos had former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) leading Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) by just one point, 37-36.

Ellsworth, if he can raise enough money, has a great candidate profile, and the fact that he’s already neck and neck with Republicans is a good sign for Democrats. His decision to run, of course, gave the party its top choice after Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D-Ind.) retirement, and Democrats avoided a tough nominating contest when Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) stepped aside for Ellsworth this week.

Even Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) had a good week, landing a strong hit on primary opponent Rep. Joe Sestak for the pittance Sestak pays his campaign staffers. Specter then saw his first lead in months in a general election poll (though the Ballot Box still thinks it’s an outlier).

But of course, there’s always the reality check. On Wednesday, former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) announced she would not run for Senate. That leaves Gov. John Hoeven (R) on path for a coronation, but it was difficult to see Heitkamp competing with him anyways.

This post was updated at 6:40 p.m.


Why the chairmen aren't giving

In today's paper, my colleague Jared Allen runs down some DCCC dues deadbeats -- including several chairmen.

Chairmen who are running behind include Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), David Obey (D-Wis.), Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Ed Towns (D-N.Y.).

The problem for many of these highest-of-the-high dues payers is that they have reason to fear for their own reelections. In fact, about one-third of Democrats' 20 standing committee chairmen have, at the very least, reason for some pause when shelling out their campaign funds.

Rangel faces a primary amidst his ethical troubles, and Towns narrowly survived his own primary in 2006.

Obey and Skelton both face challengers who are part of the NRCC's Young Guns program, as does another chairman, Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.).

And Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is the next major Democrat in line for a tough challenge, by many accounts.

The GOP has already chased one chairman, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) out the door. By signing up challengers to the others -- including several big-time chairmen who pay big-time dues -- they are at the least preventing those chairmen from spreading their wealth to other candidates.


DCCC accuses NRCC of 'forgery'

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is not amused with a Republican fundraising letter released yesterday that purported to be from Nancy Pelosi.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sent out a satirical letter yesterday signed by Pelosi, in which the fictional Speaker of the House told Americans to stop worrying about jobs.

"Many of you have been asking, 'Where are the jobs?' But what you fail to realize is no one needs a job when the federal government takes care of you," the letter read.

The DCCC responded today, accusing the NRCC of "forgery," calling the email "despicable" and "full of lies, distortions, and even an electronic forgery of Speaker Pelosi's signature."

The response also points out that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which is in town this weekend, will feature a Pelosi pinata.

"They're inciting mob violence against a pinata of Speaker Pelosi at this week's right-wing lunatic fringe fest. And now this," wrote DCCC Exective Director Jon Vogel.

Of course, Vogel asked supporters to "stand up for Speaker Pelosi" with a donation.


DSCC nips NRSC in January

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) had its best month of the fundraising cycle in January, raising $5.1 million.

The month is the best in years for the committee, which spent $4.8 million and has nearly $13 million cash-on-hand.

It also paid down more than $400,000 in debt — the DSCC has $833,000 in debt, left over from the last cycle.

"Despite momentum on the other side, our committee and our candidates are raising strong amounts and will be well positioned to face any headwinds in November," DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz said.

UPDATE: The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has announced $5 million raised, which is just less than the DSCC's total. Republicans had $10.65 million cash-on-hand and no debt.

The montly total is also the best this cycle for the NRSC.

NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said: "I’d also note that this record monthly total for the cycle comes despite the NRSC maintaining a very low fundraising profile, unlike our DSCC counterparts, in the days prior to the special election in Massachusetts."