It turns out, Dave Reichert isn’t one of your typical House Republicans after all…
Although House Republicans currently face a tough national political environment, most of their vulnerable members enjoy a substantial lead in the money race over their Democratic challengers at this early point in the 2008 election cycle.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) financial filings for the third fiscal quarter of 2007, which ended Sept. 30, reveal that the 22 Republican House members in races ranked by CQ as “No Clear Favorite” or “Leans Republican” lead more than two to one in cumulative cash on hand versus their nearest Democrat opponent.
[…] The Republicans in these two categories that CQPolitics.com regards as competitive reported a total of $12.7 million cash on hand as compared with $5.2 million in total for the nearest challengers.
Of these 22 vulnerable Republican incumbents, only five currently trail their opponents in cash on hand, putting Reichert in such rare company as Ohio’s embattled Jean Schmidt (who trails not one, but three challengers,) and soon to be indicted John Doolittle of California. Reichert’s poor performance is even more remarkable when you consider that he was the only House member last quarter to benefit from a high-profile, high-dollar fundraiser with President Bush. Ouch.
Reichert spokesliar Mike Shields, the man behind the campaign’s Enron-style accounting, attempts to put a ridiculous spin on Reichert’s disappointing results, arguing that he’s just too busy being a congressman to do what congressmen notoriously do… raise money.
“That’s one of our challenges: Dave actually has a job,” Shields said. “He has to come serve the people, and he takes that very seriously.”
Yeah, right… unlike nearly every other member of Congress. But as CQ points out, incumbents are not only expected to hold a money advantage, it is absolutely critical for vulnerable Republicans given the current political environment.
The Republicans’ overall fundraising edge in these competitive districts, though expected for incumbents, is critical given that the party has few other advantages going into the election season. In addition to the weaknesses of individual candidates, Republican members as a whole also are saddled with the party baggage of an unpopular war and president. And they cannot count on a boost from the party’s fundraising committee for the chamber, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which badly trails its Democratic counterpart in money raised and cash on hand.
Shorter CQ: Reichert’s in deep doo-doo. The NRCC has to be putting together its budget with the expectation that Reichert, now a two-term incumbent, starts carrying his own weight. And with party resources scarce, Reichert just can’t rely on the same sort of huge infusion of party cash that put him over the top in 2006.
If Reichert can’t out-raise Darcy Burner in a quarter that included a presidential fundraiser, there can be only two explanations: he either has the wrong message, or he’s just not working hard enough. And in Reichert’s case, it is clearly both.