- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

Retiring House Majority Leader Dick Armey is raising money tirelessly for fellow Republican candidates in his final months in office, despite the disappointment that his son won't benefit from the effort.
Mr. Armey's attendance yesterday at a fund-raiser in Houston for Republican Tom Reiser was his 41st campaign event this year for House candidates. His travels have put him on a pace to outraise even House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, the acknowledged master of Republican fund raising.
When he decided in December to retire, Mr. Armey said he and his wife, Susan, agreed that he should keep up an ambitious fund-raising schedule in his final year as majority leader.
"We just felt, look, we've signed up for the job, we're going to see it through at the level of performance that we think is necessary for the majority leader's position," Mr. Armey said. "There are certain things we expect the majority leader to do to help our colleagues."
Mr. Armey has raised more than $2 million for Republican candidates in 24 states in the first six months of this year, as well as contributing more than $500,000 from his Majority Leader's Fund political action committee. The Hill newspaper reported that total so far outpaces Mr. DeLay, who has raised about $1.7 million for House candidates.
But missing from the campaign picture is Mr. Armey's son, Scott, who lost a primary runoff this spring in his bid to succeed his father in Congress. Mr. Armey has said the media in Texas distorted his son's record.
"Scott and I always understood that when you get in a race, you can win, you can lose," Mr. Armey said. "The only regret on Scott's race I have is the terrible, dishonest nastiness he was subjected to. I guess I'm like any other dad in that regard. The lies they told about Scott just broke our heart."
The beneficiary of yesterday's fund-raiser, Mr. Reiser, is running for an open seat against former Houston City Councilman Chris Bell. The seat is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Ken Bentsen, who ran for Senate but lost in the primary.
Blacks and Hispanics combine to make up a majority of voters in the 25th Congressional District in Texas, which Vice President Al Gore won with 51 percent in the 2000 presidential race. Mr. Bell said the presence of the conservative Mr. Armey in the district "probably helps paint the contrast in an even clearer fashion."
Mr. Reiser has outraised Mr. Bell more than 3-to-1, thanks to donating more than $900,000 from his own pockets to his campaign. He is the founder of an insurance firm and serves on the boards of two oil and gas companies.
Mr. Armey said Mr. Reiser is "well-resourced and on top of his game" and called Mr. Bell "a guy who has really proven only that he can lose elections."
"We see this as our best chance for a pickup in Texas, outside of the two new seats" created through reapportionment, Mr. Armey said.
Mr. Bell said Mr. Armey is campaigning for a candidate who lost the Republican primary for the same seat in 2000.
"He's coming into town for a guy who really does only know how to lose," Mr. Bell said. "I served on the Houston City Council for five years and won five elections, and those were citywide elections."
Of his fund-raising disadvantage, Mr. Bell said, "Others have tried to buy this particular seat in the past, and it hasn't worked. We knew that we would be outspent, we just can't be outspent in a dramatic fashion."
Kim Rubey, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the district is reliably Democratic.


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