By Christina Wilkie - 02/01/11 11:48 PM EST
Even Democrats admit that 2010 was a pretty good year for the GOP.
But judging by the lineup of parties surrounding next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Republicans are not quite finished celebrating. And of course, what better way to raise campaign cash than throwing a party?
According to data compiled by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, the fundraisers will range from an elegant birthday reception on Feb. 11 for Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) (whose actual birthday was Jan. 18) to a “Laser Shoot Out and Hard Times Chili” party for Granger’s Texas colleague, Rep. Michael McCaul, at the National Rifle Association’s Washington headquarters. And while the annual conference officially begins on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 10, the party schedule starts the night before.
Among the lawmakers hoping to raise some cash in the 48-hour period between Wednesday and Friday nights are GOP Reps. Sam Graves (Mo.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), John Shimkus (Ill.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Ken Calvert (Calif.), Don Manzullo (Ill.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Geoff Davis (Ky.), as well as freshman Reps. Tim Scott (S.C.) and Billy Long (Mo.).
Given the estimated 10,000 conservative attendees expected in Washington for the annual get- together, it might seem like the perfect place for a conservative Republican to raise money.
But not entirely. Standing in the way of lawmakers eager to court wealthy donors is a plethora of evening events organized by CPAC during the conference. Dinners, award ceremonies and receptions threaten to keep conference-goers tethered to the Marriott Wardman Park, where the conference will take place, which could render some reluctant to schlep to Capitol Hill for a fundraiser.
According to the official CPAC schedule, the opening evening will feature a reception sponsored by former Alaska governor and Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, as well as a simultaneous VIP event featuring father-and-son legislators Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
On Friday morning, CPAC organizers will begin the day with an 8:30 a.m. “Mimosa Reception With Members of Congress,” sponsored by Americans for Policy Innovation.
And later that day, a 6 p.m. happy hour reception sponsored by the Tea Party group FreedomWorks advertises that guests should “Recruit others to join FreedomConnect for free drink tickets!”
In between all the merrymaking, attendees will hear from some of the biggest names in the conservative movement, including Big Government founder Andrew Breitbart and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is likely to plug his new memoir, Known and Unknown.
And of course, who could forget the presidential hopefuls? As of Tuesday afternoon, no fewer than eight would-be challengers to President Obama were on the conference agenda: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), Sen. John Thune (S.D.), Rep. Paul and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.).
On Friday night there are five official CPAC events, all of which will compete with Granger’s planned birthday reception at Bobby Van’s Grill from 6:30 to 8 p.m. This includes a banquet at 7:30, which will feature a keynote speech by Daniels.
After all the excitement at the conference Friday night, a few die-hards might want to keep the good times going in Georgetown, where the preppy hangout George is hosting a party called “From CPAC With Love: A Night for the Right.”
Beginning at 9 p.m., a $50 cover admits guests to an open bar and live music for two hours in the tavern that organizers have called “D.C.’s place for young conservatives.” Tickets to the party at George are open to the public; visit fromcpacwithlove.eventbrite.com to reserve one.