WASHINGTON – In a capital full of monuments, Senate Republicans have added another: a wall at their fund-raising headquarters with the names of thousands of donors of $300 or more. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (search) effort is just one example of creative fund-raising by Republicans and Democrats heading into the November elections that will determine control of the House and Senate.
"A place of honor has been reserved for you on the Founders Wall," the committee wrote in a recent mailing seeking contributions to its "Presidential Roundtable." "This high honor is reserved to only a few deserving Americans each year, and is the highest honor the Roundtable can bestow."
The mailing is part of the NRSC's effort to raise millions for Senate races at an annual Republican House-Senate dinner in Washington in July that President Bush is expected to headline.
Every season is fund-raising time in Washington, but the pace is picking up significantly this election year.
This month, the Democratic National Committee (search) formed a new team with the goal of raising at least $25 million by Election Day, Nov. 2. The group of at least 100 volunteer fund-raisers, dubbed the "trustees," pledged to raise at least $250,000 each by November.
Before that, the fund-raising ceiling for members was $100,000 each.
DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera said the party is optimistic about reaching the $25 million goal, although many major donors already have given the maximum $25,000 they are allowed to donate to a party committee each year.
"After nearly four years of George Bush, what we're finding is Democrats are more eager to give, and it's easier to fund-raise than it's ever been before," Cabrera said.
The Republican National Committee also has boosted its fund-raising goals.
Members of its new "Super Rangers" fund-raising group each must raise at least $300,000 by Aug. 15. Unlike the Democrats' trustees, the Super Rangers can count donations they've solicited going back to last January. The team is named after Bush's fund-raising "rangers," who each collected at least $200,000 for his re-election effort.
The NRSC mailing offers donors dinner tickets for $2,500 each; "limited edition" presidential photos and a spot on the donor wall to givers of $300 or more; and the presidential photos to donors of more than $150 but less than $300.
The solicitation tells recipients they are being honored for "longtime service to the Republican Party," but it has been sent to some who have never donated or had any other connection to the NRSC.
Space on the wall is only for those who give in response to the mailing, NRSC spokesman Dan Allen said. The wall is at the Ronald Reagan Republican Center in the courtyard of the committee's headquarters, and is updated with new names each election cycle.
Dorothy Argo's name will be added soon.
The 90-year-old retired Girl Scout employee from Carmel, Calif., has given $300 to the NRSC so far this election cycle. Argo said she had no problem with the fund-raising technique, but would have donated the money anyway.
"I think it's fine for people who get an ego kick out of that," she said. "What else?"