Amid RNC drama, GOP governors’ group increases its influence

Holly Bailey

Drama at the Republican National Committee already has donors shifting their cash to other party outfits ahead of November’s midterm elections. Now the Republican Governors Association is taking on some of the RNC’s traditional fundraising operations, too.

As Politico’s Maggie Haberman reported last week, RGA officials are planning to launch “victory” committees to help boost GOP gubernatorial candidates around the country. The committees allow the party to raise additional funds to pay for TV ads and get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of candidates. The GOP's House and Senate campaign arms have long operated their own “victory” accounts — but this is the first time the RGA will have its own committees, which have otherwise operated out of the RNC.

The move is but the latest in a series of blows to Michael Steele’s leadership at the RNC, which has struggled to raise funds amid near constant turmoil. But as the RNC has struggled, the RGA has seen its fortunes rise. Under Chairman Haley Barbour, Mississippi's governor, the RGA raised a record-breaking $28 million during the first six months of the year — $11 million more than the Democratic Governors Association. As of June 30, the RGA had nearly $40 million in the bank.

Most speculation about the fall midterms concerns which party will gain control of Congress — but both parties are also pouring millions of dollars into state races in hopes of gaining an edge in next year’s redistricting efforts. The way that state officials go about redrawing congressional districts could dramatically reshape the political makeup of Congress for the next decade.

The enhanced profile of the RGA has implications for the 2012 election cycle as well: Barbour is openly mulling a bid for the White House, a campaign that could get a major boost if the RGA scores big wins in November.