- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The race to head the Senate Republican campaign committee and step into senior party circles intensified yesterday, with both sides claiming more than half of the votes needed to win the post.

Supporters of Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota both said they have more than half the 28 votes that would give them the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee when 55 Republican incumbents and senators-elect meet next week.

The one-upmanship began with an exchange of letters. Mr. Coleman’s, issued before the Nov. 2 election, named seven senators who pledged to vote for him. Dole supporters released a letter yesterday in which they declared she was backed by 15 colleagues and a senator-elect.

By last evening, a Coleman aide shot back that the senator has bested both tallies put together, with more than their combined 23 votes.

“Senator Coleman has the support of a far greater number of senators than have been included in either one of the two letters that have been distributed,” said Erich Mische, his chief of staff. Mr. Mische declined to name the senators or to give a more precise number.

A letter from 16 Republicans says Mrs. Dole is “uniquely qualified and positioned to lead our next effort to protect and defend our majority” as the top fund-raiser and campaign strategist for Senate Republicans.

The Nov. 5 letter, obtained yesterday by the Associated Press, said Mrs. Dole has a household name and is well-known by the media “from her many years of service to the nation and the Republican Party.”

“That is a crucial element in fund-raising, whether trying to speak with a Fortune 500 CEO, organizing a series of fund-raising events across the country or communicating with grass-roots donors through direct mail,” the letter said.

A spokesman for Mrs. Dole refused to comment on the letter.

The Dole letter is signed by Sens. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Wayne Allard of Colorado, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Robert F. Bennett of Utah, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, John W. Warner of Virginia, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Craig Thomas of Wyoming, John E. Sununu of New Hampshire and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine. Sen.-elect Richard M. Burr of North Carolina also signed the letter.

The seven senators who had signed the pre-election letter supporting Mr. Coleman are former Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Larry E. Craig of Idaho, Jim Talent of Missouri and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, is stepping down as the committee chairman after two years. In the election, Republicans expanded their Senate majority by four seats.

Mrs. Dole won election to the Senate two years ago, filling the North Carolina seat vacated by the retirement of Republican Sen. Jesse Helms. Previously, she led the American Red Cross, was a presidential candidate in 2000 and served in two Cabinets — transportation secretary in the Reagan administration and labor secretary in the administration of the first President Bush.

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