Folks at the State Capitol are worried that the GOP base, which is furious with the Senate’s immigration bill, will withhold critical support from the Party, both in terms of dollars and volunteer man hours. Adding to their concerns is a story in today’s Washington Times which details a 40% drop in donations from the small donor base that is so critical to the national GOP’s success.
According to the Times, “The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors’ rebellion over President Bush’s immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Friday in The Washington Times. Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee’s chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times.”
The RNC is denying that the firings had anything to do with decreased donations, cleverly claiming that “Any assertion that overall donations have gone down is patently false,” according to RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, who added, “We continue to out raise our Democrat counterpart by a substantive amount (nearly double).” Of course, no one is claiming anything about “overall” donations, so Schmitt has carefully avoided commenting on the status of the small-donor telephone program. Still, one fired phone bank solicitor who asked not to be identified had this to say, “Last year, my solicitations totaled $164,000, and this year the way they were running for the first four months, they would total $100,000 by the end of 2007,” said . There has been a sharp decline in contributions from RNC phone solicitations, another fired staffer said, reporting that many former donors flatly refuse to give more money to the national party if Mr. Bush and the Senate Republicans insist on supporting what these angry contributors call “amnesty” for illegal aliens. “Everyone donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue,” said the former employee.
You can read the article in its entirety here: http://washingtontimes.com/national/20070531-050131-2781r.htm
There is still no word on what kind of impact the bill is having on fundraising by the Arizona GOP, but many believe that the drop will be less than that of the national party because the Arizona GOP was proactive in opposing the bill, mitigating the negative effects of it on the party itself. Still, the longer the debate goes on, particularly with prominent Repubican officials from Arizona leading the charge for passage of the bill, the greater the damage that can be done locally, damage that state legislators fear may have a negative impact on their ability to rally the base for the 2008 elections. “We could be in major trouble,” said one politico here at the Capitol, adding with a smile, “then again, they could nominate Hillary and make everything okay!”
UPDATE: Sources at AZGOP HQ indicate that donations from telephone soliciting are now INCREASING since the State Party took a public position against the bill. Eyes believes that the script the State Party is using has likely been refined to remind donors that Arizona Republicans have already taken a position against the bill’s provisions and that the State Party is defending that position. No word yet on whether the direct mail pitch has been altered, but it stands to reason.