Monday, November 21, 2005


GOP On The Dole?

NRO's Byron York notes how the National Republican Senatorial Committee is the only GOP organization lagging behind its Democratic counterpart in fundraising (indeed, in cash-on-hand, way behind). York credits the disparity to the person running the DSCC: "[T]he numbers show that top Democratic fundraiser Charles Schumer is pursuing contributions with the same energy that he pursues TV cameras, which is not good news for the GOP."

Hugh Hewitt
discerns a different reason:
But grassroots disgust with the Gang of 14 in the spring, and now the Alito delay, the Kavanaugh deep freeze, and last week's meltdown over the Warner Amendment have crippled efforts to rally enthusiasm behind the 2006 Senate races in which the GOP holds an opening edge because of the map.

Majority Leader Frist has to spend his break figuring out how to get the
base back into the effort to preserve the majority. He should have matched the House GOP's defense of victory in Iraq from Friday, and he can still force the Judciary Committee to act in December to vote Kavanaugh to the floor, and the floor to vote on Kavanaugh and Boyle and of course The Patriot Act.

The Senate is in disarray, and articles
like this one from the New York Times on the effort by Senators McCain, Graham and Warner to conduct their own foreign policy (as well as their own confirmation policy) explain why.

The Majority Leader's presidential ambitions are dissolving in the Senate smash-up. He hasn't got much time to rescue them.
Sorry, but Hewitt is way off the mark here: The fact is that there is very little connection between what goes on day-to-day in Congress and committee fundraising. Indeed, given how the House has contributed to the overall increase in federal spending; given ethical shadows over members of the House and a general sense of drift throughout Congress, the "grassroots" rebellion to which Hewitt refers should also have impacted National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) fundraising as well -- but it hasn't. In percentage terms the NRCC has the greatest margin of any party committee over its Democratic counterpart.

No, York is closest to the truth in figuring out what is going on -- it's the person at the top. But the full explanation speaks to what is a generally-accepted truth in Washington: Whether one speaks to congressional staff or various party apparatchicks, the wide assessment is that Sen. Elizabeth Dole, chairman of the NRSC, is absolutely horrendous at her job.

Don't get me wrong: Schumer is an aggressive SOB and a money-raising demon. That's why he got picked for the job. He's also proven quite adept at candidate-recruitment -- a fact that
hasn't gone unnoticed by the Democratic base.

Dole has
proven efficient at neither.

Indeed, the interesting question to be asked after next year's elections (it would be impossible to replace her now), is how did she manage to beat out the younger, far more aggressive Norm Coleman in getting the NRSC chairmanship in the first place. General scuttlebutt is that husband Bob (a former senate majority leader) called in some favors at the last minute to get her the plum assignment. If so, the ramifications from that "clubhouse" favor could be long-lasting -- and not to the Republican benefit. A recent Bob Novak
column tries to spread the blame around, but actually comes underscores the point: It has a "Tut-tut...Liddy is doing the best she can" feel.

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