It’s hard to find a Republican politico anywhere who can match former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie’s frenetic pace and huge investment in raising millions and plotting strategy for two key GOP groups aiming to help scores of candidates this fall.
Gillespie has been running a fundraising marathon for much of the year. Working in tandem with GOP political guru Karl Rove, Gillespie helped rope in millions of dollars to jumpstart the fledgling 527 American Crossroads and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, Crossroads GPS.
Gillespie and Rove — both dubbed informal advisers by the group — have taken successful prospecting trips to Texas and more recently to Wall Street. American Crossroads has received about $6 million from three Texas tycoons or companies in which they have major interests.
Gillespie, 49 and a New Jersey native, has also had a big hand in coaxing more than a dozen GOP-friendly independent groups — including the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Industry Political Action Committee — into meeting regularly to share information about key races. The idea is to eliminate waste and get more electoral bang for their bucks. Collectively, these groups are expected to spend close to $300 million on ads and get out the vote drives to assist several dozen Senate and House candidates.
Gillespie co-hosted the first meeting of these business and political powerhouses on April 21 at Karl Rove’s office and home on Weaver Terrace N.W. in D.C. Gillespie told the Center that the left has been “very effective” in recent elections in fostering cooperation among outside groups, quipping that “I’m glad we’ve taken a page from their playbook.”
More publicly, Gillespie in January assumed the chairmanship of the Republican State Leadership Committee, a low profile but leading GOP group whose mission is to elect key state officials from attorneys general to state legislators to lieutenant governors. Over the course of his two-year tenure, Gillespie said he hopes to double the group’s budget from roughly $20 million to about $40 million per election cycle. “We’re on a path to realize that goal,” Gillespie said, noting that he devotes about 20 percent of his time to his RSLC post.
In Gillespie’s eyes, the stakes in state races in 2010 are higher than usual because officials elected there will “affect redistricting for the next ten years.”
Gillespie says the RSLC has launched an extensive get-out-the-vote effort in 17 states that “will help Republicans across the ballot,” including GOP candidates for Congress.