Campaign Funds and the New Democratic Majority
The 2006 elections returned House Democrats to the majority for the first time in twelve years. Following the 2004 elections, Republican leaders continued to emphasize member fundraising and loyalty to the party's conservative agenda. In addition to imposing strict fundraising requirements on party members, Democratic House leaders were looking for campaign themes that would help the party win majority control in 2006. Majority Leader Tom DeLay inadvertently provided them with one important theme: ethics reform. Democratic House leaders' electoral concerns were likely reflected in their decision to endorse the rule that had indirectly helped House Republicans raise millions of dollars. In a 2006 survey, former House members were asked about the biggest challenges facing Congress. In an environment that emphasizes electoral politics over legislative politics, members' political skills are more important than their legislative expertise.