Wicker sat down in his office on Nov. 19 for an exclusive interview. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Twenty-one Republican senators up for re-election in 2016 filed into the National Republican Senatorial Committee on the morning of Nov. 19 to meet with party strategists about campaign preparations.
Leading the confab with the incumbents and their chiefs of staff were incoming NRSC Chairman Roger Wicker, the Mississippi senator elected to the position a week earlier, and Ward Baker, the 2014 political director who was promoted to executive director for the new cycle. Unlike the past four NRSC administrations, this one is charged with defending a Senate majority.
Later that day, in his first newspaper interview since being elected chairman, Wicker spoke candidly about the challenges ahead. He declined to detail the meeting but said, “I guarantee you the issue of fundraising arose.” While Republicans are primed to net nine seats in 2014 with a win next month in Louisiana, the party faced two noteworthy hurdles in the midterms: a late organizational start and being significantly outraised by Democrats.
With Baker in place — about two months earlier than when Rob Collins took the helm of the committee in 2013 — Wicker already has avoided the first issue. Now, his goal is to overcome the financial disparity.
“It’s all about putting together a good staff and fundraising,” Wicker told CQ Roll Call. “And getting the right message, and more fundraising. And it all comes back, every other day, to fundraising — then spending it smart.” Full story