Campaign committees

Campaign committees

Wasserman Schultz formally elected as DNC chief

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) was officially elected Wednesday as the new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Wasserman Schultz, known as a partisan warrior and a fixture on the cable news circuit, replaces Tim Kaine, who is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.).

DNC members gave Wasserman Schultz a standing ovation as she entered the meeting room, chanting, "Debbie, Debbie." She was elected by acclamation.

Immediately after her election, President Obama joined the gathering by phone to congratulate Wasserman Schultz on assuming the leadership of the committee.


RNC eyeing sponsored debates beginning this summer

The Republican National Committee (RNC) might sponsor a series of officially sanctioned debates for the party's 2012 presidential candidates, Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday.

Preibus acknowledged that the RNC remains in the process of contemplating sponsoring a series of official debates, which earlier reports had indicated the party was considering.

"The RNC is seeking to either sponsor, sanction, or put a Republican stamp on a limited number of debates," Priebus said at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Priebus said he could envision a series of monthly debates, beginning in the summer, for candidates who have entered the presidential race. These official forums wouldn't limit candidates from participating in any other debates.

The newly installed RNC chairman likened the party's plans to the officially sanctioned debates the Democratic National Committee (DNC) approved during the 2008 cycle.

"There isn't really anything more than that," he said.

But Priebus didn't address concerns about the debates and their format, namely whether the moderators would be selected by GOP officials or whether media outlets would have to pay for access to the debates.

Priebus did express concern that too many debates could erupt, as he said had happened in the 2008 campaign, leading to fatigue among voters by the time the early 2012 primaries arrive. The RNC-sanctioned debates, he said, would allow for a more organized pace to public candidate opportunities.


Sen. Durbin: 'Not soliciting' DNC chairmanship

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said becoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee is not on his "bucket list."

The DNC's current chairman, Tim Kaine, is expected to jump into the Virginia Senate race shortly and Democrats are quietly searching for his successor.

Durbin said he wasn't interested in the job.

"The idea of traipsing all over the United States is not really on my agenda," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press"

Asked if he would accept the position if President Obama asked him, Durbin sounded reluctant.

"I am not soliciting it, " he said. "I've got a good job in the Senate and a great job representing Illinois."

Other names at the top of the list are former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is also in the mix for the position.


Wasserman Schultz mum on interest in DNC post

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is one of the names in the mix to head the Democratic National Committee should Chairman Tim Kaine run for Senate next year, but she isn't revealing whether she has any interest in the post. 

"I understand there is a DNC chairman at the moment," Wasserman Schultz said Tuesday when asked about top Democrats dropping her name as a contender to head the committee. 

Asked if she would have any interest in the slot should Kaine officially jump into the race for retiring Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) seat, Wasserman Schultz simply repeated her earlier dodge.     

While Democratic insiders put her name near the top of the list of possibilities to head the DNC, working against Wasserman Schultz is her role at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

The Florida congresswoman is one of five DCCC national chairmen for the 2012 cycle and is working on the committee's redistricting efforts. That role would present an inherent conflict, said one Democratic insider, given that the two committees compete for donors. 

Other names at the top of the list are former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, both of whom are pegged as more likely to be selected for the DNC job than Wasserman Schultz. 

One thing tying all three together — they were all supporters of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-N.Y.) 2008 presidential campaign.

Earlier this week, a DNC spokesman said Kaine is "increasingly likely" to jump into the 2012 Senate race, making an official announcement more a question of when than if at this point.


DGA Chairman blasts Christie: 'Tea partying governors live in a different world'

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D), called out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie again Saturday during a speech at a Democratic fundraising dinner, saying the "tea partying" governor lives "in a different world than ours."

O'Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association, accused Christie and other GOP governors across the country of irresponsibly slashing funding for priorities like education and infrastructure.

"The tea partying Republican governors would have us believe a lot of things that just aren't so," said O'Malley. "They would have us believe that we can somehow eat cake and lose weight. They would have us believe that we can just cut our way to a better future -- no need to invest in education or rebuild our infrastructure."

O'Malley was keynoting the Virginia Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner, where he touted former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's record of "fiscal discipline," slamming GOP governors who he said "would have you believe that they are the only governors who balance their budgets every year."

"At the Republican governor's tea party, where colorful characters like Chris Christie preside, there is no need to pay bills, no need to protect bond ratings, no need to invest in the future," O'Malley said. "Down is up, up is down; candy is a vegetable, and vegetables are candy."

O'Malley's comments mark the continuation of a public feud between the two governors. Earlier this month, Christie slammed O'Malley in an interview on Fox Business Network after the Maryland governor said Christie "delights in being abusive towards public employees."

"He doesn't know what he is talking about," Christie said in response to O'Malley. "Come to New Jersey and listen to what I am saying, rather than listening to his Democratic consultants."


Senate Dems saddled with campaign debt

Senate Democrats staggered into 2011 with their campaign committee carrying almost $10 million in debt from the past election cycle.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, meanwhile, has less debt but also less cash on hand. The NRSC had only $118,316 banked as of the start of the year, with $6.5 million in debt. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had $753,595 banked, but started the year with $8.88 million in liabilities.

Democratic officials were quick to point out they out raised their GOP counterparts by almost $15 million in the 2010 campaign cycle.

"One of the reasons we were able to beat back the Republican wave last cycle is because we outraised the other side," Guy Cecil, executive director of the DSCC, said in a statement. "Despite Republicans enjoying national momentum, we were able to amass the resources needed to wage aggressive campaigns in targeted states. Our supporters know what's at stake in 2012 and stand ready to fight."

Still, the DSCC is under pressure to best last cycle's fundraising performance because of the greater number of seats they have to defend in 2012. Democrats have 23 senators up next year, while the GOP only has 10 seats up for grabs. Republicans need a net gain of at least three seats to take control of the upper chamber. 

Republicans boasted they won seven Senate seats last year without losing one of their own.

"It's amusing, to say the least, to see Senate Democrats cite their fundraising as the reason they only lost seven seats when their previous fundraising advantage was eroded by $57 million in the 2010 cycle, despite having far more Senators and the fundraiser-in-chief in the White House," Rob Jesmer, NRSC executive director, said in a statement.

Both campaign committees spent more than they raised in December. The DSCC took in $2.48 million and spent $2.44 million. The NRSC raised $2.32 million and spent $2.72 million.


Despite staff cuts, RNC remains mired in debt

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus boasted that his early staff cuts have saved thousands of dollars for the party but admitted its finances remain mired in red ink.

The RNC currently has $725,650 banked and just over $21 million in debt, according to its latest Federal Election Commission filing. But in a statement, Priebus said the committee's actual liabilities total $23 million -- $15 million in loans and $8 million owed to vendors. 

Some estimates suggest the committee will need to raise up to $400 million to help Republicans compete for congressional majorities and the White House in 2012.

"We have our work cut out for us, but I am confident we will succeed in turning around the RNC through hard work, transparency and honesty with our hardworking grassroots activists and donors," Priebus said Monday. "That is why in the first two weeks we have reduced staff from 124 positions to 82, frozen all major contracts until they can be evaluated and assembled an incredibly strong finance transition team."

The chairman estimated those moves have saved the RNC $500,000 a month. He also said there were steps being taken to lower the cost of processing small donations.

"The RNC did raise nearly $105 million in 2010, mainly through low-dollar solicitations online and in the mail, but the costs to raise it were simply too high, at approximately 64 cents for every dollar raised," he said. "Even more troubling, our major donor programs are at 10-year lows."

He pledged to continue taking the steps "necessary to defeat President Obama."

--Updated at 9:56 a.m. Feb. 1