Former Senate Leader Says Senators Spent Two-Thirds of Time Asking for Money

Huge campaign needs drive senators up for reelection to put most of their time into raising cash.

An employee counts USD notes at a money change outlet in Jakarta on June 14, 2013.
National Journal
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Shane Goldmacher
Jan. 16, 2014, 7:29 a.m.

It’s not news that politi­cians spend much of their time, palms out, ask­ing for cam­paign cash. But the sheer volume of sup­plic­at­ing that former Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Tom Daschle de­scribed Thursday was a shock.

“A typ­ic­al United States sen­at­or spends two-thirds of the last two years of their term rais­ing money,” Daschle said.

That fig­ure even puts to shame the re­com­men­ded four hours a day of “call time” — di­al­ing donors for dol­lars — that the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee has re­com­men­ded for fresh­man law­makers.

Daschle ex­plained his math this way: “A sen­at­or has to raise $10,000 every day that they’re in of­fice — every day of their six years — to make the av­er­age amount that’s spent today in a Sen­ate race.” And those in com­pet­it­ive races have to col­lect even more.

Daschle and former House Speak­er Den­nis Hastert, speak­ing at a 2014 elec­tions pre­view hos­ted by Fu­ture Civic Lead­ers, both cited the end­less money chase as one of the grow­ing reas­ons for un­hap­pi­ness among law­makers.

“Your ful­fill­ment al­ways has to ex­ceed your frus­tra­tion and, in a lot of cases, frus­tra­tion has ex­ceeded ful­fill­ment for a lot of mem­bers of Con­gress today,” Daschle said.

“They’re rais­ing as much money in a sen­at­ori­al race as we used to raise for pres­id­en­tial races,” ad­ded Hastert.