Romney opens wallet for GOP lawmakers

Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee (RNC) will help Republicans in tough House and Senate races with fundraising, a contrast with a refusal from President Obama’s campaign to make any cash transfers to House and Senate Democratic committees.

Romney’s campaign and the RNC, which have set up a joint fundraising committee, will cooperate closely to run an integrated campaign in battleground states. Leading House and Senate races will be looped into the joint victory program, where the RNC will help with data, field staff and equipment technology, according to an RNC source.

The various party organizations are still hammering out the spending details, but if Romney and the RNC can help out their side in a big way while Obama sits on his money, a number of races could be affected.

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Critical swing states featuring competitive House and Senate races include Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. Any combination of wins and losses there could be a deciding factor for who controls the White House and Congress.

Republicans only need a net gain of three Senate seats (if Romney wins the election) to take control of the upper chamber. The GOP is seen as having a more comfortable margin in the House, where Democrats need to gain about two dozen seats to take control.

Romney would likely benefit from a GOP-controlled Congress if he wins the White House, while, should Obama win reelection, a Republican legislative branch could be a significant block to his agenda.

Other financial resources from the Romney/RNC joint effort are on the table as well. 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee, as well as four state parties, were included in the joint victory fund so that donors from the financial-services industry can max out to the joint political effort — some are banned from donating to their state parties because of “pay to play” rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said there had been discussions at the staff level but he hadn’t been deeply involved in the plan yet. But when asked if there would be a joint committee to help both Romney and Senate candidates, he said he thought there would “be some of that.”

“The best thing Gov. Romney can do is run strong and win — that’ll help us,” he said.

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The campaign committees are roughly equal in the amount of money they have — the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) leads the NRSC in cash on hand with $25.7 million to $21.6 million.

On the House side, the NRCC has $31.3 million in the bank to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) $25 million, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a close Romney ally whom many expect to be on the shortlist for vice president, said he hadn’t heard any details but that Romney told him he would be deeply involved in helping Republicans win unified control of Washington.

“I know that he’s very interested in helping retain the majority of the House and get the majority here, but I haven’t heard about any specific coordination,” he said. “He’s always been very helpful to other candidates and he would have an interest in making sure the Senate majority changes.”

Senior Obama aides told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in March that they were on their own for this election. A Democratic source said those plans have not changed.

That’s a departure from the last two cycles, when Obama and the Democratic National Committee gave the House and Senate committees a combined $30 million each cycle. 

Obama has also yet to commit to fundraising for any specific congressional candidates and has pledged only one fundraiser apiece for the DSCC and DCCC.

And a Democrat pointed out that in swing states the Democrats' House, Senate and presidential campaigns are working together on field operations and will run a joint program.

Romney has been on a fundraising tear in recent weeks. He and the RNC nearly matched Obama and the DNC in their April fundraising totals. 

While Obama has a big cash-on-hand advantage, Romney and his allies are expected to outraise and outspend Obama. Meanwhile, Republican super-PACs are almost certain to outspend Democrats by a wide margin on House and Senate races.

— This story was updated at 9:54 a.m.