Skip to comments.Republicans Line Up to Finance Top Democrat
Posted on 05/21/2004 5:32:28 AM PDT by Theodore R.
Republicans line up to finance top Democrat By Deborah McGregor
Published: May 21 2004 5:00 | Last Updated: May 21 2004 5:00
In a campaign seasonwhen President George W. Bush has shattered records for campaign fundraising, John Thune has the dubious distinction of being the rarest of political creatures: a Republican Senate candidate strapped for cash.
Hand-picked by the Bush White House, Mr Thune, a lanky former congressman, is running for the Senate in South Dakota, challenging Democrat Tom Daschle in one of the fiercest contests in this year's elections.
The South Dakota race is much more than just another tight Senate race. If Mr Daschle wins, there is a chance he will regain his position as Senate majority leader. As top Democrat in the Senate, he has become a magnet for political donations from business.
Even though Mr Thune is regarded as a strong pro-business candidate, companies and trade associations have donated more than three times as much money to Mr Daschle.
In the first quarter of this year, Mr Thune received just $93,000 (78,000, £52,500) from business political action committees, against Mr Daschle's $322,000.
This weekend, Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, will make an unusual trip to South Dakota to help raise funds for Mr Thune, breaking a longstanding Senate tradition of party leaders not campaigning personally against each other.
But that is perhaps less remarkable than the sight of Republican lobbyists scurrying to fill Mr Daschle's campaign coffers.
David Rehr, a former House Republican aide who is now a lobbyist for the National Association of Beer Wholesalers, makes no apology for contributing to Mr Daschle's campaign.
"It did raise a few eyebrows," admits Mr Rehr, chuckling. "When people looked at me - a Republican and a big supporter of this president - they sort of said: 'Hey, what's going on?' John Thune is a good friend of mine and I had to tell him we would be giving to Daschle, not to him. But it's nothing personal. It's more about trying to re-elect someone who has been with us on the issues."
The business support for Mr Daschle highlights the power of incumbency in Washington. It also reveals the pragmatic nature of political giving: Democrats are deemed to have an increasingly good shot at regaining control of the Senate. That would put Mr Daschle back in the powerful position of majority leader.
Business donors shy away from saying it that way, preferring to cloak their largesse in nuanced language about how Mr Daschle has backed their interests and furthered their causes as a leading senator and how much they admire him. But the level of business donations favouring Mr Daschle over Mr Thune is a good leading indicator of where business sees the battle for the Senate going.
Steve Largent, a former Oklahoma congressman and president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, representing the wireless phone industry, is another prominent Republican lobbyist. His organisation has given $1,000 to Mr Daschle.
"He [Daschle] was very involved in working on legislation to get the internet tax moratorium, which was critical for our members," says Mr Largent. "What we do is give money to people who support our issues."
In an effort to help Mr Thune offset Mr Daschle's advantage, a group of Republican lobbyists held a fundraising event in Washington on Tuesday evening. Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, was keynote speaker at the event - closed to the media - which raised about $140,000 for Mr Thune.
"It is tough, there's no question, when you're up against someone like Daschle, but John [Thune] is an excellent candidate and he will do fine," says Jade West, a former Senate Republican aide who helped organise the Thune fundraiser as a lobbyist for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.
Mr Thune is one of two candidates this group of Republican lobbyists has selected to raise funds for this year, says Ms West.
The other is Richard Burr, the Republican candidate in the hotly contested North Carolina Senate race.
Mr Daschle's campaign is unfazed by the excitement. The Frist visit, while expected to generate media attention, simply underscores Mr Thune's dependence on his Washington friends, according to Dan Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Mr Daschle.
"Visiting politicians from Washington are not going to decide how this election comes out," says Mr Pfeiffer. "This is between John Thune and Tom Daschle."
In a state Mr Bush carried by 22 percentage points in 2000, it is also about the Iraq war, the economy and concerns such as beef imports from Canada. But when it comes to political giving, nothing, it seems, is sacred.
Major League Baseball gave $4,000 to Mr Daschle, even though many of the league's owners are big supporters of Mr Bush - who once owned a baseball team.
OK's gain is America's loss!!!
I was just about to say what a disgrace Largent is. I blame him, and his inept campaign, for the GOP losing the Senate seat to a Dim.
Where do we donate to Thune?
"It did raise a few eyebrows," admits Mr Rehr, chuckling. "When people looked at me - a Republican and a big supporter of this president - they sort of said: 'Hey, what's going on?' John Thune is a good friend of mine and I had to tell him we would be giving to Daschle, not to him.
Real funny Mr Rehr. IMHO, you and your cohorts should be given a fleet enema for supporting Dashole, in your rehrs of course....
When "Senator" Thune is sworn in in January, they will come crawling, asking for forgiveness. The slugs that they are. It's always money over priciples with lobbyist.
the GOP losing the Senate seat to a Dim
You meant that Largent lost the OK governorship in 2002, the biggest surprise of election night, because Largent had taken his election as "inevitable."
Now OK Republicans will have a tough time holding the Senate seat to be vacated by Lobbyist-To-Be Don Nickles.
I guess this proves two things: (1) This is the only way they think they can get the Indian casino business(9 out of 10 dead indians vote RAT) (2) Khrushchev was correct when he said that a capitalist would sell the rope that was used to hang them, because aiding that little sob is helping hang America
this is truely disgusting...call your senators folks and let them have it!!!!..NO RATS NO RINOS!
Do you think that we will yet see the destruction of the Republican Party from within its own ranks?
Idiots like this will destroy
Don't you think that such "idiots" represent the majority of the Republican Party? Or just a small minority? Democrats used to call conservatives within the GOP "a minority within the minority."
I've got some bad news for you sunshine, if li'l Tommy Dashole is "with you on the issues," you're no Republican.
This is one of the most disturbing things I've read in a long time. FU Bud.
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