Campaign committees

Campaign committees

DCCC bulks up expenditure team

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is bulking up its independent-expenditure operations, naming two leaders and adding two teams as it steps up efforts to take back the House in November.

Travis Lowe, the DCCC’s campaign director and former regional political director, will serve as executive director for independent expenditures. Kevin McKeon, who heads research for the DCCC, will now direct research specifically for the IE team, which cannot coordinate directly with campaigns.

“They have the right combination of experience, political know-how and superior understanding of our races to aggressively run winning races,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said in a statement.

House Democrats have upped their IE teams from six to eight to enable them to focus on more than 75 races they believe to be in play. Democrats need to flip 25 seats in 2012 to retake the majority in the House.

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NRSC outraised DSCC in December, but Dems had better year overall

Senate Republicans out-raised Democrats by about $1 million in December, but Democrats did better overall in 2011 and have slightly more on hand heading into election year.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $4.5 million in December to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's $3.5 million. Democrats have $12.2 million in the bank and Republicans have $11.4 million.

Both committees ended the year free of debt.

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Gov. Haley to headline NRCC dinner

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) will keynote the National Republican Congressional Committee’s 2012 fundraising dinner, the committee announced Friday. The annual dinner will be held March 20 at the National Building Museum.

“Gov. Haley has quickly proven her ability to stand up to Washington Democrats’ job-destroying agenda and to fight for Republican solutions for prosperity,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said in announcing the details of the dinner. “As a rising leader in the Republican Party, Gov. Haley represents a dynamic voice for effectively communicating the Republican will to win in 2012 to rebuild the American Dream.”

But Democrats quickly pointed out that the NRCC is featuring a governor beleaguered by her own problems at home. Haley had a 34 percent approval rating in South Carolina in a December poll from Winthrop University.

She was elected in 2010, and has recently become one of Mitt Romney’s most visible campaign-trail surrogates.

The NRCC said it raised $10 million in 2011 from its annual dinner, the largest fundraiser it holds each year. Republican Reps. Candice Miller (Mich.), Bill Shuster (Pa.) and John Sullivan (Okla.) will serve as co-chairmen of this year’s dinner.

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DCCC chairman decries GOP ‘hypocrisy’ on Countrywide

The top Democratic campaign official in the House is accusing his Republican counterpart of hypocrisy for attacking a Democrat over Countrywide loans, then deleting the attack from the campaign group’s website after it was revealed its own chairman was caught up in the same debacle.

“Where theres hypocrisy, were going to call them out on it,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told reporters Wednesday.

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GOP makes play for Hispanic support

Republicans are upping their efforts to reach out to the Hispanic community ahead of an election season in which Hispanics will play a larger role than ever before.

The Republican National Committee announced on Wednesday that it created a new position for a director of Hispanic outreach, and named campaign veteran Bettina Inclán to the position. Inclán previously headed the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and worked on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) successful 2010 campaign.

"By placing staff at the local communities, we will be engaging with the community where they work and live and bringing them the Republican message of economic opportunity and family values," Inclán said in a conference call with reporters.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the party's efforts to connect with Hispanic voters would include digital outreach, get-out-the-vote campaigns and voter identification strategies, bolstered by an on-the-ground staff coordinating outreach to the nation's fastest growing voter bloc.

The expanded efforts signal a realization that Republicans have a long way to go to be competitive with Democrats in appealing to Hispanics, who now make up a substantial portion of the vote even in states far removed from the country's southwestern border with Mexico.

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Pro-Gingrich super-PAC registers with FEC

A new super-PAC has been created in support of Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich.

The independent expenditure committee Winning Our Future sent registration paperwork to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, an individual associated with the committee told The Hill. 

"What is so exciting is that more and more Americans are beginning to realize that Newt Gingrich is the right choice and Barack Obama is the wrong choice," committee President Becky Burkett said in the release. “And so, we are proud to be part of an effort to enhance the momentum he has created.”

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DCCC Chair: 2012 race for House control will be 'razor close'

The race for control of the House in 2012 will likely end in a photo finish, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) predicted.

In an interview airing Friday night on Bloomberg TV, Israel said there was a feasible path for Democrats to flip the 25 seats they need to take back the majority from Republicans, but only if they simultaneously protect their incumbents.

"I’m not saying we’re going to win 25 seats. It’ll be razor close," Israel said.

Despite Republican claims that a high number of Democratic retirements will create an even steeper incline for Democrats, Israel said math is on their side. He noted that Republicans are defending more seats than Democrats and almost 20 of those districts voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in both 2004 and 2008.

Israel downplayed speculation that President Obama could drag down Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in 2012, saying it paled in comparison to the drag Republicans would see from what he called their radioactive poll numbers.

"There is a certain reality here that the president’s numbers are challenged in certain areas," he said. "But House Republican numbers are about half of where the president is."

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Republicans throw cold water on unemployment numbers

A drop in the unemployment rate to the lowest it has been in almost three years might seem like good news, but Republicans aren't ready to let President Obama and Democrats take credit.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threw cold water on the latest Labor Department figures on Friday, acknowledging it was positive news but claiming it failed to mask the damage Obama has inflicted on the nation's economy.

“Only in an economy so badly damaged by Democrats’ policies would the White House celebrate 8.6 percent unemployment," Priebus said in a statement shortly after the numbers were released. "The fact is, unemployment remains unacceptably high."

Priebus pointed to another part of the unemployment report that showed many unemployed Americans have stopped looking for work, which also drives down the unemployment rate, calling it evidence that Obama had so discouraged the job market that workers had simply given up.

Priebus joined a chorus of Republican leaders Friday who downplayed the significance of the unemployment report, which showed a steep drop from the 9 percent jobless rate one month ago.

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Dems blast Cain’s ‘Princess Nancy’ comment

Democrats are trying to raise indignation over GOP presidential candidate Herman Cains nickname for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — and possibly raise some money off it.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday included in its weekly email to supporters a note calling Cain out for referring to the former House Speaker as Princess Nancy.” Recipients were invited to sign a petition denouncing Cains comment.

That’s outrageous. As the first and only woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has spent decades standing up for women and fighting for the middle class, DCCC Executive Director Robby Mook wrote in the email. She earned the Speaker’s gavel.

The email also included a contribute button so supporters could make donations to the committee.

During a CNBC debate Wednesday for GOP presidential candidates, Cain was asked how we would replace President Obama’s healthcare reform law, and accused Pelosi of burying an already-introduced measure to repeal it.

We didn’t hear about it in the previous Congress [when Pelosi was Speaker] because Princess Nancy sent it to committee and it stayed there, it never came out, Cain said.

He later apologized to Pelosi, but noted that she had also used harsh terms to refer to the Tea Party.

— This post was updated at 7:47 p.m.

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