- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Senate Republicans with enormous campaign war chests are refusing to transfer significant amounts of money to help fellow Republicans who are cash-strapped and face defeat in the final weeks of the campaign.

The stinginess alarms some of the Republican Party’s top campaign strategists, especially because it is in such stark contrast to the millions of dollars that Democrats have transferred to their candidates in need.

Control of the Senate will come down to a half-dozen close races next month, and both sides agree that money will likely determine the outcome of each. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has nearly twice as much money on hand as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for that final sprint to Election Day.

According to the latest figures available, the DSCC has $23 million and the NRSC has $12 million. Much of that difference stems from the disparity in late giving from sitting senators.

“Time is running out,” one senior Republican aide said. “People will not want to look back and wonder what more could have been done. That would be a real shame.”

The ire of some Republicans in Washington and on the campaign trail has been directed at some of the most senior Republican senators who are harboring millions in campaign cash.

For example, Republican Sens. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas both have more than $9 million in their campaign accounts, and there is no limit to how much they can legally transfer to the NRSC.

Mr. Shelby isn’t up for re-election until 2010 and won his last election with 68 percent of the vote. His campaign account contains $11.6 million, but he has given $15,000 to the NRSC. If Democrats take over the Senate, Mr. Shelby will have to surrender his chairmanship of the banking committee.

“Senator Shelby is committed to expanding the Republican majority and assisting those who share his conservative philosophy,” said spokeswoman Katie Boyd. “Senator Shelby’s PAC, Defend America, has contributed heavily to Republican candidates throughout the country.”

Mrs. Hutchison, one of the top Republican leaders in the Senate, has $9.5 million on hand, and polls in Texas show her trouncing her opponent by 20 points or more. She has given $115,000 to the NRSC, a little more than 1 percent of her campaign holdings.

Spokesman Marc Short dismissed any criticism and said she’s given more than $1.5 million directly to candidates through her political action committee (PAC).

“You would be hard-pressed to find a candidate who is up for election this cycle who has given more than Senator Hutchison,” he said.

But given the stakes, Republicans say it’s hard not to make comparisons to Democrats who have given far more generously from their campaign accounts.

In all, five Democrats have transferred $1 million or more from their campaign accounts to the DSCC during the current two-year cycle, compared with only one Republican — Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Far and away, the most generous Democrat is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has transferred more than $2 million from her campaign account to the DSCC. Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Dianne Feinstein of California also have given $1 million or more from their campaign accounts.

“We wouldn’t be in the good position we are in heading into November if we didn’t have deep support from the entire Democratic caucus,” Phil Singer, spokesman for the DSCC, said yesterday.

For the NRSC, spokesman Brian Nick said: “We’re very pleased with the generous support we have received from our incumbents, which is essential to protecting the majority.”

That money is so crucial, campaign strategists say, because it allows the party to dump huge amounts of advertising money quickly into a state that suddenly becomes winnable or suddenly becomes vulnerable.

Many point to Michigan’s Senate race in which Republicans say challenger Michael Bouchard is gaining momentum against incumbent Debbie Stabenow. If Republicans had more money, they say, the state would be ripe for picking.

“That’s where it hurts,” said Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report.

Michigan would be “a reach, but you could make it a race if you had the money to go there.”

Other Republicans who have cash on hand but aren’t up for re-election or face only minor opposition this cycle are Craig Thomas of Wyoming, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Norm Coleman of Minnesota.

Mr. Thomas has $1.1 million on hand and is expected to win easily, and Mr. Brownback has $600,000 but doesn’t face re-election. Neither has transferred any funds to the NRSC. A spokesman for Mr. Brownback said he’s given heavily to candidates this cycle from his PAC.

Of his $1.8 million campaign account, Mr. Coleman has transferred $15,000 to the NRSC. A spokesman said Mr. Coleman just transferred an additional $100,000 to the state party to help Republicans capture the open Senate seat there.

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