From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 — Confronting an enormous fund-raising gap with Democrats, Republican Party officials are aggressively recruiting wealthy candidates who can spend large sums of their own money to finance their Congressional races, party officials say.
At this point, strategists for the National Republican Congressional Committee have enlisted wealthy candidates to run in at least a dozen competitive Congressional districts nationwide, particularly those where Democrats are finishing their first term and are thus considered most vulnerable. They say more are on the way.
My secret source gave me a photo of some of the possible Republican candidates for the next election cycle.
These wealthy Republicans have each already invested $100,000 to $1 million of their own money to finance their campaigns, according to campaign finance disclosure reports and interviews with party strategists. Experts say that is a large amount for this early in the cycle.
Ken Spain, a spokesman for the House Republicans’ campaign committee, said that the recruiting effort has made the party more competitive heading into the elections.
“We have been very fortunate in our recruiting efforts,” he said. “There will be a number of credible Republican challengers running for Congress next year that happen to have access to personal financial resources. They are in position to run strong, well-financed grass-roots campaigns next year in some of our top targeted districts.”
The most recent figures show that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised $56.6 million and has $29.2 million at its disposal. By contrast, the National Republican Congressional Committee has raised $40.7 million with a cash balance of $2.5 million.
That is a striking turnabout for the Republicans, who have outraised the Democrats by considerable margins for years. As recently as 2006, the Republican Congressional campaign committee raised $40 million more than its Democratic counterpart, $179.5 million to $139.9 million.
“National Republicans are in disarray, forcing them to recruit inexperienced and unprepared self-funders,” said Doug Thornell, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Some senior Republicans, frustrated with what they describe as anemic fund-raising by the party’s House campaign committee, say that luring wealthy candidates is no easy fix, as it does not guarantee victory. “I’ve seen many a rich guy blow cash and still not become a member of Congress,” said one top House Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as criticizing his colleagues.
In fact, past elections show that candidates who spend large sums of their own money frequently end up losing. In 2006, for example, only 2 of the 10 candidates who spent the most of their own money on their own races for House seats won the elections, according to an analysis of finance records and election results.
The potential limitations of relying on candidates whose most conspicuous asset is money were on display last week when a millionaire expected to pour his own money into a Congressional bid in the suburbs north of New York City abruptly dropped out of the running.
The candidate, Andrew M. Saul, a vice chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, quit the race after disclosures that he had raised money from real estate executives seeking business from the agency.
But in a campaign when Democrats are trying to expand their majority, some Republicans argue that candidates able to tap personal fortunes may, at the very least, help put some Democratic incumbents on the defensive and thereby tie up money party leaders might otherwise spend challenging Republican incumbents.
Call me crazy (like nobody ever thought of doing that before), but i think candidates should be just like the rest of us and should not be allowed to donate a penny more than $2300 to their own campaigns. If only the rich are going to be able to run, then change the name of Congress to the House of Lords.
Okay, kids, who can name all of the characters pictured?