'Battleground' program quickly raises $7.7M

Aided by several competitive races for committee gavels in the next Congress, House Republicans have already raised $7.7 million during the first two weeks of their so-called Battleground program.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), chairman of the program, which is aimed at raising money for GOP candidates and incumbents in the tightest races, told members during their regular weekly meeting yesterday that he and his seven deputies had raised $4 million leading up to that meeting, he said afterward.

Members ponied up an additional $3.7 million in checks to support their GOP colleagues during the morning meeting at the Capitol Hill Club, Cantor said.

House Republicans are trying to raise $17 million by Oct. 11 for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) warned Republican lawmakers during the meeting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already reserved $50 million in television advertising time to unseat the GOP majority this fall, an aide in attendance said afterward.

To assist his Republican colleagues in the face of that opposition, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) and the other members of his committee stood up during the meeting and pledged to raise $4.2 million, Republican staffers said afterward.

Barton also challenged members of the other panels to match that amount and vowed to treat all the members of any committee that matches or exceeds the Energy and Commerce totals to a Texas steak dinner.

With an eye on committee gavels and other coveted assignments, some Republican lawmakers made significant contributions yesterday to help their colleagues hold the House, a leadership aide said afterward.

Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), a top candidate to succeed Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), contributed $500,000, the biggest donation yesterday.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who is locked in a tight race for the Financial Services gavel, gave Cantor a check for $350,000.

Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), the most junior member of the elected leadership, as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, gave $300,000.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who is vying for the chairmanship of the International Relations Committee, contributed $250,000, exceeding her $70,000 target.

Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a candidate for the Budget Committee chairmanship; Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who is challenging Ros-Lehtinen for the International Relations gavel; and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) all contributed $200,000.

Others donated $150,00 yesterday.

Even challengers got into the mix. Republican Kevin McCarthy, who is a heavy favorite to succeed Thomas in California’s 22nd District, gave $25,000 and pledged to contribute another $25,000 before the October deadline.