Loose Ends: Fund-raising races, Kagan hearings and remembering Byrd

06/28/2010 07:09 PM

UPDATED: U.S. Senate candidates Rand Paul and Jack Conway, like most general election contenders, are scrambling to collect as much campaign cash as possible before the quarterly deadline arrives on June 30.

On Monday, the two campaigns fired off dueling e-mails to fire up supporters in the donation arms race.

“We’re working to raise $100,000 before midnight Wednesday, and we are counting on you to make the difference,” said an e-mail blast from Conway’s campaign manager Jonathan Drobis. “With just over four months until Election Day, we need the resources to beat Rand Paul and his Tea Party friends in November.”

Not to be out-done, Paul dispatched an urgent message to his supporters Monday afternoon setting the bar to double Conway’s target on Monday during Paul’s first “MoneyBlast” of the general election — an online fund-raising effort modeled after the “MoneyBombs” he and his father, Texas Republican Congressman and former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul previously launched.

“I just received an email from our opponent, Jack Conway. Ole’ Cadillac Jack is asking his supporters to help him raise $100,000 on line in the final days before the quarter on June 30th,” Paul’s e-mail said. “Let’s show this Liberal Elitist that he cannot hold a candle to our grassroots passion. Let’s show Jack Conway that we can raise twice as much in one day as he can in one week!”

Paul’s campaign pulled in $200,000 during a “MoneyBomb” on Dec. 16, which was long before he trounced Republican opponent Trey Grayson in the May 18 GOP primary election.

But Paul had a ways to go to match that haul by early evening Monday. As of 6:30 p.m., Paul was just shy of collecting $93,500 for the day, according to RandPaulGraphs.com. (UPDATE: Paul crossed the $100,000 threshold at 7:30 p.m.) He pulled in money at a steady pace throughout Monday, hitting $10,000 by 9:30 a.m., $40,000 by noon and $68,000 when he sent the message to supporters around 3:30 p.m.

UPDATE: After another e-mail plea to supporters, Paul’s fund-raising topped out at $172,098 for the day, slightly short of the $200,000 benchmark. Paul sent another message after passing the $100,000 mark earlier in the evening warning that “my opponent has a lot of deep pockets on his side, like trial lawyers and union bosses. Those groups have three things in common: they have a TON of campaign money to give out, they are enemies of limited government, and they have decided I am enemy number 1 this year.”

Conway, meanwhile, traveled to Washington, D.C., on Monday morning to attend a fund-raiser with Democratic Senators, which is why he missed Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance in Louisville.

Lally gets hint of possible national Republican support

Todd Lally, the Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth this fall, announced Monday some entry-level support from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The NRCC has designated Lally as “on the radar,” the first of several steps to becoming a target race for the committee through its “Young Guns” program. And while the Lally campaign said the designation doesn’t come with NRCC money it does give the campaign “more credibility.”

“This designation gives us notoriety outside of the 3rd district,” Jay Hill, Lally’s campaign manager said.

Hill and Lally’s staff director Joel Adams told cn|2 Politics that hitting certain internal and NRCC fund-raising goals led to the designation.

The campaign also launched an online fund-raising effort Monday morning to raise $50,000 by Wednesday.

And if the campaign can continue to hit or exceed goals set by the NRCC and itself, it could be declared a “contender” by the NRCC, the last step before reaching the top “Young Gun” status.

“(This designation) is one step toward being a big name,” Adams said.

Yarmuth began May with a $500,000 head-start on Lally.

McConnell weighs in on Kagan hearings

The Senate confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, began Monday and some Republicans, including Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama,

Elena Kagan, Supreme Court nominee

opened with remarks skeptical of Kagan’s impartiality and experience.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told cn|2 Politics on Friday that while some of Kagan’s emails from her days as a White House adviser to President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s showed “some interesting things,” he said most Republicans would reserve their opinion until the hearings.

“Our approach to it as a conference is to let the process go forward. And I’ve encouraged my members not to make a premature decision one way or the other. Let’s let it play out,” McConnell told cn|2 Politics on Friday.

Some Republicans have drawn a parallel between Kagan, a former law school dean and now the U.S. solicitor general who has never served on the bench, and Harriet Miers, whom Republican President George W. Bush sought to elevate from his general counsel to the Supreme Court in 2005. Miers withdrew her name after senators complained about her thin judicial experience.

But McConnell declined to speculate whether the GOP Senators would try to make a similar case against Kagan.

“It’s all left to be determined,” he said.

McConnell, Bunning remember Sen. Byrd

The late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia

Both of Kentucky’s Republican U.S. Senators issued statements expressing sorrow at the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd of neighboring West Virginia early Monday.

“We will remember him for his fighter’s spirit, his abiding faith, and for the many times he recalled the Senate to its purposes,” McConnell said in a statement Monday morning. “Generations of Americans will read the masterful history of the Senate he leaves behind, and they will also read about the remarkable life of Robert Carlyle Byrd.”

By Monday afternoon, Bunning issued a more reserved one-sentence statement:

“Senator Byrd served the people of West Virginia with great distinction during his nearly six decades in Congress.  I want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Senator Byrd.”

- Ryan Alessi and Kenny Colston

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