- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 2004

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she expects hefty payouts from the national party in 2006 to help congressional candidates.

“We think that there are resources at the DNC [Democratic National Committee] that should be at our disposal in 2006, and winning those races, I think, will help us more in the election in 2008 for the White House,” the California Democrat said.

The DNC is in good shape coming off an expensive presidential and congressional election season. Outgoing DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said grass-roots fund raising led to more than $400 million in donations for the 2004 election cycle, with the committee taking in $13 million after Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry lost on Election Day.

“We now have the tools and resources to start day one building for the next election. Evidenced by the fund-raising totals after November 2, this party is primed and ready to take on the Republicans in 2005 and beyond,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

The party is debt-free for the first time in years and has more than $8 million in the bank. But recent losses in Congress concern lawmakers that they are not receiving the support they need and that the party is too focused on regional, not national, campaigning.

These issues will fall to a new chairman and possibly a restructured DNC.

Mrs. Pelosi said she was not concerned about rumors that the executive committee is looking to change the structure of the party to a “bifurcated” structure with a general chairman and an operational chairman.

“That is really up to them. I don’t think it will make too much difference,” Mrs. Pelosi said, adding that in the party’s search for its new chairman, it should “avoid something that will be divisive to the party,” but she did not elaborate as to which candidate she felt would cause a rift.

Among the names being floated for DNC chairman are former presidential candidate Howard Dean, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, former Clinton confidante and Media Fund chairman Harold Ickes, outgoing Rep. Martin Frost of Texas and a host of personal preferences disguised as speculative candidates, such as California Rep. Grace F. Napolitano and North Dakota Sen. Byron L. Dorgan.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry J. Reid of Nevada told the Roll Call newspaper that he was pushing for Mr. Dorgan, a two-term senator from a very conservative state.

Mr. Dorgan said he doesn’t expect to be tapped for the post, because he heads the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. He said, however, he would have no problem with Mr. Dean or anyone else, just as long as the committee focuses on other regions, not just the traditional Democratic-leaning states.

“In a state President Bush won by a large margin, a Democratic senator won by an even larger margin, we have to stop giving up on red states before the election begins. We have to run a national campaign for a change,” Mr. Dorgan said.

In a speech before Democrats this week, Mr. Dean said the party should be restructured and needs to grow from the ground up, “not from the consultants down.”

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