Eyeing the House, Pelosi makes fundraising swing through Chicago

Eyeing the House, Pelosi makes fundraising swing through Chicago

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is coming to town this weekend to help a handful of Democratic congressional hopefuls locked in the state’s tightest races this election year.

The former Speaker of the House is scheduled to attend a small fundraising event with 20 to 30 big donors at a downtown Chicago restaurant Friday night, said Tony Romanucci, a Chicago personal injury lawyer and long-time Democratic fundraiser who is hosting both events.

Tickets for a lunch event with Pelosi on Saturday, which will also feature Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, range from $500 to $10,000.

Money-wise, Democrats are hoping to pull in “mid to upper” five figures at each event, Romanucci said.

Illinois could play a big role in whether Pelosi regains her speakership and Democrats win back their majority in the U.S. House, which they lost during the 2010 midterm elections. Three of the country’s hottest Congressional races encompass part of the Chicago suburbs.

Those are in the 8th District, where Democrat Tammy Duckworth is facing incumbent Tea Party Republican Rep. Joe Walsh; the 10th District, where Democrat Brad Schneider is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Robert Dold; and the 11th District, where former Congressman Bill Foster is squared off against incumbent Republican Rep. Judy Biggert.

Democrats would need 25 seats to take back the House, and the party is hoping to win five of those in Illinois.

“How ‘bout ground zero? That’s how important it is,” Romanucci said of Illinois’ role in winning back the House for his party. “California, Illinois and New York account for, I believe 60 or 65 percent of the seats that we need to take back the house.”

A spokeswoman for the National Republican Campaign Committee declined to talk about plans for any upcoming GOP fundraisers. Republican House Speaker John Boehner headlined a pair of fundraisers in the suburbs in August.

Big money from SuperPACs, which can collect and spend funds in unlimited amounts, is beginning to pour into the races. And national parties are getting involved, too.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it’s ready to spend $6 million on Illinois TV ads between now and Election Day, $3 million of which is set aside for the Chicago market. The NRCC, meanwhile, said it has already reserved more than $8.6 million of airtime for the next few weeks.