GOP freshmen feel fundraising pinch

Oct. 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- House Republican freshmen who rode voter discontent to Washington in 2010 now are experiencing difficulty in fundraising, third-quarter reports indicate.

House GOP aides say they knew the July-August-September cycle would be bad for freshmen because historically the summer months are difficult times for fundraising and the debt-ceiling debate kept members in Washington and away from their fundraising efforts, Politico reported Sunday.

Financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission indicated a few first-time lawmakers had poor efforts. Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold raised $102,000 last quarter. North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers, a former nurse, reported a $97,000. Florida Rep. Steve Southerland, who had operated a funeral home before heading to Washington, reported receiving $90,000.

"You have a lot of freshmen who have never been in politics. So a lot of us are doing something we have never had to do before," Southerland told the Washington publication before posting his report on the FEC Web site. "It's not that natural a thing, asking people for money. Especially now, people are struggling."

House Republican leaders have made it a priority to help the freshmen fill their coffers, instituting during the summer a revised version of its Patriot Program, designed to boost the party's most vulnerable incumbents.

A poor fundraising period can raise the profile of any candidate on a target list, Phil English, a former GOP congressman-turned-lobbyist who is informally advising some freshmen, told Politico.

"If a candidate comes in with a slow quarter, it may signal that they are not running for re-election or are running into problems," English said. "I think you can make a pretty compelling case that when people come in (on) an anti-Washington wave, they aren't going to come with fundraising connections. That takes time to build."

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