The political committee of House Democrats is going directly after incumbents from across the aisle, an ability made possible in part by their vastly more successful fund-raising operation. The Republican committee, meanwhile, is trying to track down embezzled funds while also bringing in strategic reinforcements.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and seven other Republicans on their vulnerable list for voting “present” rather than “yea” or “nay” on a war funding bill before the House. The DCCC will be using radio and robocalls against Adam Putnam (R-FL) and Reps. John Shadegg (R-AZ), Lincoln Diaz Balart (R-FL), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Randy Kuhl (R-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Steve Chabot (R-OH). “The DCCC is running these ads to hold Republicans accountable for their hypocritical votes on the funding bill for our troops," said DCCC’s Jennifer Crider. "As Americans are bravely fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans chose to make a political point rather take a stand on funding for our troops.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the NRCC has spent $355K on legal and accounting fees stemming from the theft of money from its warchest by the Committee’s former treasurer via a book-cooking scheme.
And in the wake of three losses straight red-district losses in Congressional special elections and widespread criticism of NRCC chair Tom Cole (R-OK), despite relatively heavy investment of dwindling NRCC funds, a pair of seasoned political operatives are being brought in. The two-person calvalry includes Tom Davis (R-VA) and Pat Tiberi (R-OH), who will start out with an audit of the committee, its actions and results. Davis has chaired the NRCC in the past.
RBR/TVBR observation: The importance of the national committees is perfectly illustrated here. Each and every candidate is well aware of the need for a well-funded warchest in pursuit of federal office. The national committees, however, can sit back and pick and choose races. When they sense an ailing opponent, they can swoop in with extra cash to take advantage; likewise, they can come to the defense of a damaged but still competitive colleague.
Right now the Democrats are able to play politics – and selectively spend money — while the Republicans are forced to occupy themselves with some serious housecleaning. Republican candidates in swing districts will be greatly aided if the NRCC is able to get its house in order and start closing the gap between it and the DCCC, but that may not be so easy. As Davis said, "You don’t turn the Queen Mary around overnight."