NRSC Plan Gets Freshmen Involved

February 18, 2011

By David M. Drucker, Roll Call

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) has tapped a dozen Senators, including six elected in November, to lead an expanded portfolio of National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraising programs for the 2012 election cycle.

Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) andSaxby Chambliss (Ga.) are serving as liaisons to K Street as co-chairmen of the NRSC’s Policy Board and Senate Council political action committee program. Sen. Johnny Isakson(Ga.) and freshman Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) are chairing the low-dollar Network program targeting the younger downtown donor crowd that wants to be involved but doesn’t have the means to write a large personal check.

Cornyn, serving in his second term as NRSC chairman, said Wednesday that he has asked all Republican Senators to make themselves available to headline fundraisers, both in Washington, D.C., and around the country. Acknowledging that most GOP Senators don’t support the committee through transfers of personal campaign funds — unlike their Democratic counterparts — Cornyn said his strategy is intended to compensate for that while still maximizing the fundraising prowess of his Members.

“We’re doing everything we can think of to try to do even better than we did last cycle when it comes to our fundraising,” the Texas Republican said. The NRSC raised $2.86 million in January, had $483,000 in cash on hand and was carrying $6.5 million in debt.

New this cycle are three groups of regional co-chairmen of three Senators each, with each responsible for fundraising in a third of the 50 states. Freshman Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.),Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) comprise one group; freshman Sen. Mark Kirk(Ill.) and Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.) and James Risch (Idaho) are another; and Sen. Mike Johanns (Neb.) and freshman Sens. John Hoeven (N.D.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) form yet another.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), who served as NRSC vice chairman in the previous two cycles and put in considerable hours fundraising, plans to remain involved, but at a lower level as he focuses on his re-election race and what could be a competitive primary. John Nau, a wealthy Houston businessman and Cornyn’s national finance chairman, is remaining on board for another cycle, as is the national finance committee of about eight to 10 private-sector individuals.

Cornyn presented his fundraising and political plans for the 2012 cycle Tuesday during the GOP’s weekly caucus lunch that was moved to NRSC headquarters in order to discuss political matters. The NRSC chairman, who last week announced his intention to run for the Whip slot of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), said the response was positive.

According to a knowledgeable GOP source, Cornyn impressed upon Republican Senators the importance of participating in NRSC fundraising and other activities in order for them to capitalize on the favorable political environment.

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