Thursday, September 07, 2006

President Bush and Bill Clinton square off as Fundraisers-in-Chief

Revised and supplemented at 7:30 pm
As first reported by Eric Krol in his Daily Herald column [here] and then in his joint Animal Farm blog with colleague John Patterson, President Bush is now set for a Chicago stopover which is likely to be closer to a mid-October date [than the late September/early October dates reported by Krol] to raise some cold, hard cash for two of the most competitive races in the Country, the 6th CD [20%West Suburban Cook County and 80%East DuPage County] and 8th CD [30% Northwest suburban Cook County, 55% West Lake County and 15% McHenry County].

The Republicans hope W can pull in at least a half million dollars for State Senator Peter Roskam [R-Wheaton] in the 6th CD and another half million for David McSweeney [R-Barrington Hills] in the 8th CD. If Bush’s approval ratings are moving up at that time and are above 40 %, and if both races stay tight, exceeding the million dollar total target and maybe hitting 1.5 million for the two aspiring congressmen is doable, but far from a sure thing.

President Bush pulled in about 1.3 million dollars for a Topinka lunch in July, but that event was not subject to the federal election limit of a total $4200 per person for the primary and general election. And, finding donors who are not maxed out or tapped out may not be easy. On the other hand, in the last 30 days before the election, donors may be more willing to pull out their checkbooks and get in the swing of “fall season giving.” Further, the October Bush funder for McSweeney/Roskam is for dinner, a somewhat classier event than Judy Baar's Drake luncheon. And, of course, the dinner guests will get a twofor, or more accurately a “three for the price of one.”

Not to be outdone, the Democrats, with the help of former President Bill Clinton senior adviser and now DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel, are also trundling out their heavy artillery, with former President Clinton coming to town in late October Again, See Animal Farm blog to help Cong. Bean [D-Barrington] in the 8th CD and Tammy Duckworth [D-Hoffman Estates] in the 6th CD. One would think Mr. Bill could match W dollar for dollar, notwithstanding his mere “former President,” status.

However, given that the aging, but always charming, policy wonk Mr. Bill is targeting bucks for two Districts that have been Republican since Watergate, and then some in the 8th CD, he may fall short. After all, remember, it is in large part McSweeney, Roskam, Bean and Duckworth who must make the calls. They just have the Bush, Clinton names to toss around to the invitees. And in the still Republican 8th and 6th CDs, the Clinton name may help energize the Democratic base, but it may not be that golden with Republicans and Independents that Bean and Duckworth need to be targeting in their calls and in their vote solicitations.

Of course, Bush won't help Roskam and McSweeney much with Democrats and Independents, but in 2004, Bush won 56% of the vote in the 8th CD and 53% in the 6th CD, so if those folks are still with W, he should be able to help Roskam and McSweeney more than he hurts. But, that could be a big IF.

The Moderate Party's Bill Scheurer may not yet have big guns coming in to raise money for or with him in the 8th CD, but he is on the ballot and he says 250K will get him a district wide communication. Bill claims, "if you have a superior product, you don't need quite as much money to sell it." If Bill can pull even 2% of the vote, he could tip the election to McSweeney.

Scheurer, for his part, says he is in the race to win, not just to make an anti-War, anti-CAFTA and anti-Bush tax cuts statement. But, he has raised only 50K to date. Scheurer is articulate, polished and he can be persuasive. If he can get some significant funding in the remaining 60 days, he could surprise a lot of pundits, who peg him at best as a spoiler in Bean's re-election effort. But, again, that is a big IF.

It is a somewhat strange system we have: take people with fairly successful business, legal, political and/or military backgrounds and have them compete for Congressional offices by spending enormous amounts of time dialing for dollar pledges/commitments and then becoming bill collectors who call those who pledged and remind them of their “commitments and IOUs.”

On the other hand, the alternatives may not be so great, either. So, if you are Melissa, David, Bill, Tammy and Peter , keep on dialing for bucks.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at