Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., a hockey fanatic, is stepping up his drive to raise money to help elect Democratic House members with Democratic National Committee chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., headlining a Chicago fundraiser on Monday for Quigley’s political action committee Puck PAC.
While Quigley, a former Cook County Board member, might have been viewed by folks as more of a policy wonk when first elected to Congress in 2009, he also has developed into a major House Democratic player, carrying his load and then some more when it comes to fundraising for the team.
“My immediate goal is to move up in seniority and prominence in the Appropriations Committee,” Quigley told me.
That Wasserman Schultz is doing an event for Quigley shows his growing standing. Quigley faces only a minor November challenge from GOP contender Vince Kolber for the 5th Congressional District seat, anchored on Chicago’s North Side.
The House political operations — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee — actually impose dues on members, using a sliding scale with those with top committee assignments asked to contribute more.
The DCCC keeps a running tally and as of Sept. 30, according to internal records:
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., with seats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is current on her $300,000 dues, the highest in the delegation. She also has helped other candidates raise money for years.
Quigley, with the Appropriations assignment, has a $200,000 tab from the DCCC, a group once led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel when he was in the House. Quigley replaced Emanuel when he stepped down to become President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff.
Since coming to Congress, Quigley has sent $449,000 to other candidates and the DCCC, with $403,500 from Quigley For Congress and $45,500 from Puck PAC.
Quigley told me he expects to raise $25,000 to $30,000 from the Wasserman Schultz reception at Conlon & Dunn public strategies. Quigley said as soon as he gets the contributions, “I’m going to turn around and send it out,” to Democrats in the tightest races, with checks to Illinois House Democratic candidates a priority.
Being handed a tab from the DCCC for $125,000 when she got to Washington was a big shock to freshman Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill. “That surprised me, I don’t want to lie about that,” Kelly told me. To date, Kelly has paid $76,500.
The Illinois Democrats in the toughest contests are not expected to pay full dues. Three of the most endangered get big breaks: Brad Schneider, Cheri Bustos and Bill Enyart have $125,000 dues; Schneider paid $4,000; Bustos, $2,000; and Enyart, $500. Less threatened, Rep. Bill Foster paid only $2,000 of his $200,000 dues.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth paid $74,800 of her $125,000 dues; Rep. Danny Davis paid $70,000 of his $200,000 dues.
Two pay nothing: Reps. Bobby Rush, with dues of $250,000 and Luis Gutierrez, with dues of $125,000. But Gutierrez spends an enormous amount of time traveling around the country for other candidates and immigration reform.
Gutierrez does make some individual contributions, as does Rep. Dan Lipinski.
Lipinski stands out for doing almost nothing for the team, which means Democratic leaders will think twice before allowing him to advance on the Transportation Committee.
Lipinski is sitting on a campaign fund with $1 million cash on hand; faces nominal opposition in November; and paid only $2,000 of his $150,000 dues. He did send $17,000 to other Dems from his PAC. “I decided to give to the ones of my choosing instead of giving to the DCCC,” he told me.
Quigley is climbing the House ladder as House Dems are starting to think about the next generation of leaders. Wasserman Schultz is widely thought to aspire, when the time comes, for a top House leadership post.
Also on Monday in Chicago, Wasserman Schultz, with Rep. Bobby Rush D-Ill., is visiting volunteers at a Gov. Pat Quinn campaign office on the South Side. She is also the draw at a downtown funder for Bustos, who is in a major battle to keep her seat.
Note: the last paragraph is corrected to reflect the South Side Wasserman Schultz event is for Gov. Pat Quinn at a Quinn campaign field office.