The Washington Post

Politicians fundraise to beat the buzzer

(AP Photo/John Bazemore) (John Bazemore/AP)

College basketball’s March Madness continues into April, but for politicians playing in their own March competition, their game ends Monday with a typical Hail Mary shot to beat the buzzer.

At the end of each fundraising quarter, inboxes are cluttered with contribution pleas with either dire warnings (“the need is urgent” “your help today is critical”) or promises of a great time away with a congressman for the bargain price of $2,500.

Monday morning, President Obama himself e-mailed supporters offering some straight talk — he doesn’t want to deal with a Republican-led Senate during his final two years in office. Without your $250 contribution by midnight, “the same Republicans who held our country hostage with endless obstruction” could take over.

One Republican challenger in West Virginia, Evan Jenkins, is running against vulnerable incumbent Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). Jenkins let supporters know Friday that their donation by the March 31 deadline would really stick it to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.

And Democratic pundit James Carville asked for a modest $25 to counter attacks against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), mentioning something about Scott Brown, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers wanting to tango. In another plea Monday morning, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) requested only $5 “or whatever makes sense to you” to help his friends keep the Senate (he just won in 2012, so his need is less desperate).

Not all donation requests are so anxiety-ridden. Especially for those not facing tough reelection fights this year. Take Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who recently hosted people (at $1,500 per individual)  in Sun Valley, Idaho, for “Family skiing and Fun!” to spend time with her and special guest (!) Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). We’re not convinced Barrasso is an especially compelling draw, but the enclosed outdoor swimming pool and spa appointments sound enticing.

But speaking of draws, Newt Gingrich (Republican presidential nominee of South Carolina) sent an e-mail Monday morning asking supporters a question impossible to say no to: “Want to grab a sandwich?” A donation to the National Senate campaign arm puts you in the running for lunch with Newt, where conversations, we presume, will range from moon bases to zoo animals.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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