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  •   DeLay Enlists Deputies as Fundraisers

    By Juliet Eilperin
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, March 25, 1999; Page A12

    House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) launched an ambitious fund-raising plan at his weekly deputy whips meeting yesterday, instructing his colleagues to raise as much as $1.5 million to help reelect 10 vulnerable GOP incumbents.

    The Retain Our Majority Program marks the first time DeLay has formally mobilized his legislative vote-counting team to specifically mount a campaign effort. It is part of a broader House Republican effort and underscores the leadership's sense of urgency to protect some GOP lawmakers from a possible voter backlash to impeachment.

    According to leadership aides, Reps. Steve Chabot (Ohio) and James E. Rogan (Calif.), members of the House Judiciary Committee who assisted in prosecuting President Clinton in the Senate, are among the endangered Republicans who would be assisted.

    "The way I look at it, we've got 12 months to save our majority and gain seats," DeLay said last night. "We've got to pull all the stops and get back to what we do best, and that is go to our base, develop strategies we used to do very well and implement them."

    In the past both parties have encouraged incumbents in safe seats to help colleagues in tough races, but never has this occurred so early in the campaign cycle. Last year House GOP leaders used this technique, but spent the money on a national advertising campaign that many Republicans later conceded was woefully ineffective.

    National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (Va.) said DeLay had consulted with him on the plan, in which each deputy whip would raise and contribute $3,000 to 10 vulnerable incumbents, including several concerned about an impeachment backlash.

    DeLay currently commands a team of 65 deputy whips responsible for helping to pass GOP legislation. Because members by law can contribute a maximum of $2,000 to a colleague's primary and general election campaigns, the whips will have to find others to contribute an additional $1,000 to each of the targeted campaigns.

    "We are very enthusiastic about it," Davis said. "You'll see a lot more innovative things like this, a lot more leadership PACs, so we can get more cash in the hands of vulnerable members."

    Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) said the effort would be effective because "it individually deploys resources to the districts so we can fight the battle where it's being fought."

    Chabot said that while his constituents had been "overwhelmingly supportive" of his role in impeachment, he expected Democrats and their allies to target him in the same manner they had for the last two elections.

    "We certainly welcome the help . . . because we know the other side's going to be geared up and is going to spend a lot of money," Chabot said. "There's no question the left is going to come after me again."

    Chabot and other House "managers" in the impeachment trial also have joined to create a political action committee, the House Managers PAC.

    Meanwhile, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Patrick J. Kennedy (R.I.) said he has asked all Democratic members to double their contributions to the campaign fund to assist vulnerable Democratic lawmakers. He added that "this maneuver by Tom DeLay" would help him to galvanize Democratic fund-raising for the upcoming campaign.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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