One day after new filings revealed the House GOP campaign arm outraised its Democratic counterpart for the third straight month, Democratic House leaders pleaded with rank-and-file members to get serious about fundraising or risk not winning back the majority.
Party higher-ups, in a private dinner Tuesday evening with nearly 80 members present, scolded lawmakers for a perceived lack of giving to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Members who don’t pony up were warned they could be cut off.
“We understand. Redistricting, being in the minority, it’s tough. Please just do something,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in an impassioned plea to members, urging them to “send a signal to our colleagues, to the press, to donors that this is a unified effort,” according to one Democratic source familiar with the remarks.
Israel estimated that just 40 percent of the party’s 193-member caucus had contributed — well below expectations, he said.
“Forty percent of our caucus is carrying the load for everyone else. Forty percent participation is unsustainable,” said Israel. “We cannot win the majority on 40 percent. Our goal is 100 percent participation.”
At one point, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison stood before the group and excoriated members for their lack of giving.
“I look at the report and see a lot of goose eggs,” he said. “Our base is fired up. The signal we’re sending to them is that we don’t believe in ourselves. We need to get the goose eggs out of the report.”
Israel said he understood the challenging landscape Democrats now face because of their minority status, and acknowledged that many members were also staring down redistricting threats — but implored the group to press on.
The push came just one day after newly filed campaign finance records indicated that the NRCC outraised the DCCC for the third consecutive month, taking in $4.6 million to the DCCC’s $3.8 million in May. Democratic officials are particularly concerned that over the span of the month, the NRCC had more than $1.2 million in member money while the DCCC collected just $540,000 from lawmakers.
The NRCC also reported that it has more than $10 million in the bank – twice as much as the DCCC.
Underscoring his point, Israel said the DCCC would begin to cut off tightfisted members from its services. But he also sought to outline giving incentives, noting that contributing lawmakers would be able to take part in the committee’s events at the Democratic National Convention next year.
Israel was joined by South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who outlined her own extensive fundraising efforts for the party and praised several generous members, including New York Rep. Nita Lowey and California Reps. Mike Honda and Jackie Speier.
“I travel nonstop. I don’t want to go to my own events, I’d rather be with my family. Doing events take time, it’s tiring, but we have to do it to fight for our Democratic values,” said Pelosi. “Please participate, it sends a powerful message.”
At one point in the dinner, Texas Rep. Gene Green came forward and produced a $25,000 payment.
“I’ve never not paid my dues,” he said. “Here’s my installment.”
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