Sunday, June 3, 2007

DEVELOPING President Bush’s immigration bill is hurting fund-raising by the Republican National Committee, but fierce grassroots opposition to the legislation is helping several state Republican parties, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Monday in The Washington Times.

Tina Benkiser, chairwoman of the Republican Party in the president’s home state of Texas, says raising money has been successful “in large part to our principled stance against illegal immigration.”

Since the beginning of 2006, when substantial immigration debate began, “the Republican Party of Texas has experienced an exponential increase in direct mail donations from supporters statewide,” she said.

Both phone and direct-mail fundraising remain strong for Republicans in Michigan, said state chairman Saul Anuzis.

“In Michigan, seven out of nine congressional Republicans oppose the bill, our activists are publicly opposing amnesty and we are also re-establishing our brand image by fighting a Democrat attempt to increase taxes,” Mr. Anuzis said. “These issues are keeping our people engaged, where otherwise we could feel a [donations] drop off.”

Similar reports from other state GOP officials in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Delaware indicate that opposition to any form of amnesty for illegals is a fund-raising winner.

This goes against the trend of declining national party contributions from rank-and-file donors who say they’re angry about the attempt by Mr. Bush and Republican senators for legalizing the status of millions of illegal aliens.

The pain is particularly felt at the Republican National Committee.

First-quarter fundraising by the committee this year was the most difficult in four years, according to records of the Federal Election Commission. In the first three months of this year, the committee collected $24.6 million, down from $35 million in the same period last year, $32.3 million in the first quarter of 2005 and $46 million in the first quarter of 2004.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee reports similar distress.

The Senate committee raised $9.1 through April — less than half the $18.3 million raised by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the same period.

Even in liberal-leaning Delaware, officials say Republican grass roots opposition to the Senate measure is overwhelming.

“At our state party convention two weeks ago, we passed unanimously a resolution adamantly opposing the amnesty bill,” said Delaware GOP Chairman Terry Strine, who said not one of the 350 delegates and 150 alternates to the convention voiced opposition to the resolution.

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