August 10, 2004
More from the Congressional trail

And the money keeps flowing in CD 32:

How anxious are Republicans about Rep. Pete Sessions' chances for a fifth term? Every top House GOP leader has sent money his way $318,000 in all, with $10,000 apiece from political action committees controlled by Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Speaker Dennis Hastert and others.

Mr. Hastert will headline a Sessions fund-raising breakfast Tuesday at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas, one of five events in Texas this week for Republicans hoping to oust the Texas 5 the Democratic incumbents targeted by redistricting.

"That doesn't sound like they're very confident. They're doing everything they can to prop him up," said Frost spokesman Justin Kitsch.

Mr. Hastert denied that he or anyone else is worried.

"Martin's an old hand," he said in a brief interview. "You don't want to take anything for granted. Pete's a good friend of mine. He's a great member of our conference, and I'm going to do everything to make sure that he gets elected."

Most GOP House leaders have sent checks to Mr. Sessions. The $10,000 club includes Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier of California. Mr. Sessions, a fourth-termer, is a junior member of the panel. Mr. Frost, with 13 terms of seniority, is the top Democrat.

One Bush cabinet member, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, sent $1,000.

Besides donations, GOP leaders also have bestowed legislative goodies on Mr. Sessions prompting derision from the Frost camp. In May, for instance, they assigned him to lead the charge on a popular tax-cutting bill to help raise his profile. Similar favors have gone to other Republicans deemed vulnerable.

"Sessions is beholden to his national party leaders like Tom DeLay because he hasn't done anything on his own to help the people of North Texas," Mr. Kitsch said.

Sessions campaign manager Chris Homan disputed that, saying the aid springs from respect for his work. "We've had offers from every member of leadership and just about every chairman and chairwoman," he said.

It's not unusual for senior lawmakers to help a colleague. But Mr. Sessions has also gotten aid from freshmen: $1,000 each from Reps. Candice Miller of Michigan and Tom Feeney of Florida, and $2,000 from Dallasite Jeb Hensarling. He represents the Dallas-to-Tyler 5th District that Mr. Sessions gave up two years ago to run in the new 32nd District, which is more compact and seemed safer at the time.

At least two freshman Democrats have sent Mr. Frost $1,000 checks: Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton administration official, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. In all, Mr. Frost has collected $140,000 from House Democrats, including $10,000 each from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a former rival, and Whip Steny Hoyer.

Unlike Mr. Sessions, Mr. Frost has his own leadership PAC. The Lone Star Fund has handed out $41,000 to 28 House candidates; $5,000 went to his campaign.

Chris Paulitz, press secretary at the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the outpouring to Mr. Sessions reflects reality and confidence. "Scared translates to less money, not more," he said. "Pete Sessions is beloved in his party. ... Anybody looking at this race knows it's going to be close."

As for bragging rights, both sides boast about their fund raising.

Mr. Frost has raised $3.1 million, more than all but three House candidates nationwide Speaker Hastert; Houston businessman Ben Streusand, who lost a GOP primary; and the No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Mr. Sessions has raised $2.8 million. But he has $2.6 million in the bank $1 million more than Mr. Frost.

Via Vince, who also points to an AP wire story on Charlie Stenholm. Not a whole lot new in there, but I thought this was interesting:

Stenholm has fought hardest for farmers and agriculture and for reducing government spending, without giving away the farm. Stenholm helped found the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats.

He counts among his friends some Republican officials and GOP voters, such as former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest, who retired after the 2002 elections.

Combest and Stenholm worked closely to write the 2002 farm bill that replaced the 1996 Freedom to Farm law. The new bill raised subsidy rates for grain and cotton growers and revived a system to provide supplemental income when commodity prices fall below certain levels. Texas got the biggest increase in subsidies under the bill.

"I couldn't ask for anybody to be more supportive of me as a chairman than what I got from Charlie, in committee, in action on the floor and certainly in conference," Combest said in a telephone interview from Lubbock. "For a long time it was me and him against the Senate."

Combest, who lives in District 19, declined to say who he'll vote for in November.

That's Stenholm's challenge, as we well know: convince Republicans like his former colleague that if there's only going to be one West Texas voice for agriculture, he's the one to pick.

Win some, lose some: The Quorum Report notes that Rep. Chet Edwards won the Texas Farm Bureau Friends of Agriculture Fund (AGFUND) endorsement (Word doc), but his challenger won the nod from the NRA (Word doc).

Lorenzo Sadun had an op-ed in the Statesman about making every vote count.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 10, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack