Campaign committees

Campaign committees

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


Former RNC chairman says Priebus is man to beat

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan says Reince Priebus is the man to beat at Friday's vote to elect the committee's next chairman, but warns he better lock it up early.

"He's definitely the front-runner right now and, depending on what happens on the first ballot, he could lock it up pretty quickly," Duncan told The Ballot Box.

Duncan said he wouldn't be all that surprised if Priebus has the race in hand as early as the third ballot Friday afternoon, but said the longer the vote drags on, the more the field will open up. 

Priebus, chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, leads in the number of national committee members already pledged to support his bid. Candidates need 85 of the committee's 168 members to win. 

Duncan, who dropped his 2009 bid for reelection after a poor showing in early balloting, predicted Priebus could lose strength if the voting drags on Friday afternoon.  

Duncan noted that, while he doesn't expect Michael Steele to return as chairman or have a particularly strong early showing, "it certainly makes it tougher for [Priebus], the longer the vote goes on."

In 2009, Steele won on the sixth ballot, defeating South Carolina Party Chairman Katon Dawson 91-77.

If it's not wrapped up after three rounds of balloting, Duncan said folks should settle in for a long afternoon.