Texas Congressman Roger Williams tells Breitbart News he has the votes to become the next chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
“We’ve been calling everybody and we are getting very little push back,” said Rep. Williams, who is challenging Ohio’s Rep. Steven Stivers, the current deputy chairman of the House Republican’s political wing and a close ally of the outgoing NRCC chairman, Rep. Greg Walden.
Stivers was contacted by Breitbart News and the congressman’s spokesman said the Ohioan would not be giving interviews until after the NRCC election. House Republicans return to Washington next week, when a vote is expected to take place.
“People agree with our message and they are getting on board,” Williams said. “I am sure the other side is counting, too–our numbers show we got this.”
Williams, who was a farm hand in the Atlanta Braves system in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was elected to Texas’ 25th congressional district in 2012, but he has already made an impact because of his ability to raise funds for himself, his colleagues and the party. In 1994 and 1998, Williams was a fundraiser for Texas Gov. George W. Bush and he continued to raise money for Bush through his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaign. In the 2004 campaign, Williams was the national grassroots fundraising chairman.
A very successful 2014 cycle saw House Republicans gaining their highest membership, 247, since 1929 – a 13 seat pickup. And in 2016, the Republicans lost six seats, but held control of the chamber with 239 out of 435 seats.
Despite the NRCC’s success, Williams says its business model is busted.
“We’re getting out raised by the other side,” he said. Because so much of the committee’s cash comes from member dues and not outside organizations or individuals, so the committee set up to support congressmen campaigning, is actually just circulating the much of same money around.”
In 2004, 78 percent of the NRCC budget came from outside the House Republican Conference members, he said. In the 2014, it was at 38 percent. In 2004, 12 percent of the funds for the committee came from the member dues and now it is more than 60 percent.
“The burden of the dues on the members is breaking the backbone of the NRCC,” he said. Another challenge is that roughly 60 percent of the members of the GOP conference pay their dues.
The new structure Williams proposed would cut the dues to $250,000 per cycle with bump ups for congressman in leadership and committee and subcommittee chairmen.
By dropping the price of the dues, the Texan said he expects to bring in more money because dues are the main reason why roughly 40 percent of the GOP conference has decided not to pay dues at all.
Williams said he would also reach out to his own network of professional athletes to support the fundraising and form a speakers bureau that would book the athletes on speaking tours, where they could share the conservative message of the House Republicans.
If elected, Williams said he would also upgrade the professionalism at the committee and provide customer service to donors and members.
Many key Members of Congress supporting Williams told Breitbart News they were voting for him because he is looking to reboot the NRCC’s fundraising and his commitment to recruiting candidates.
The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Utah’s Rep. Jason Chaffetz, told Breitbart News, he first heard of Williams, when he saw his “The Donkey Whisper” video, a send up of the Robert Redford role as “The Horse Whisperer”–but, with Williams talking to donkeys.
“Roger is a very dynamic person,” Chaffetz said. “He’s got great energy. He’d be fabulous in recruiting members. He knows how to raise money and he is a rock solid conservative.”
Williams recognizes the need to recruit great candidates early in the cycle and in areas where Republicans have ceased to be competitive, such a the Northeast and California, he said.
The Utah congressman said he appreciates the job that Walden and his deputy Stivers put into the NRCC. “We’ve had great success, Steve Stivers has poured his heart and soul into it, but I think Roger has a vision of how to change the model moving forward.”
Watch “The Donkey Whisperer”
Western New York’s Rep. Christopher Collins, the first congressman to endorse President-elect Donald J. Trump, said to Breitbart News he is voting for Williams for the same reasons he supported Trump.
“A CEO, a private-sector guy, who understands fiscal discipline, great man, focused on the end game, which is, obviously, electing Republicans in Congress and picking up seats,” he said.
“In terms of fund raising, there is no more prolific fund raiser outside of our leadership team than Roger Williams,” Collins said.
One time, Collins said Williams told him that he made a fundraising call at 11 p.m., because he knew the target would be home. “Then, he told the guy: ‘I’m not getting off the phone until you give me a check for $10,000.'”
Collins said he agrees with Rogers that members should pay lower dues and the dues schedule needs to be flattened.
“I know that if he says he’s going to do it, he’s going to do it,” he said. “There is all this pressure on members, if you don’t pay your dues, you may not get the committee assignments you are looking for–it is what it is, it’s one of the things that is always looked at–who’s current on their dues? Who’s paying their dues?”
Collins said he is charged $450,000 per election cycle. “That’s a lot of money.”
New Mexico’s Rep. Steve Pearce told Breitbart his concern about the NRCC’s dues structure led him to support Williams.
Pearce said he believes Williams can reverse the trend of more and more of the NRCC’s budget financed by members themselves and less and less from outside groups and contributors.
“As a business guy, anytime you let your donor or revenue base shrink to a smaller and smaller group of people, you have bigger troubles–and I think that is the key,” he said. “He knows a lot of people. He can bring those people in to help us to do our jobs.”
South Carolina’s Rep. Tom Rice told Breitbart News he chose to support Williams because Stivers seems “old guard” to him and he is looking for a new approach.
California’s Rep. Duncan Hunter, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine officer, told Breitbart News he likes both candidates and if either one wins, the NRCC will be fine, but he is supporting Williams.
“Number one, he is a friend of mine,” said Hunter. “He knows his stuff, he knows how to raise money. He understands the business world and his is a businessman–that is what the NRCC should be about.”
Hunter said he does not need to change direction and he has been very happy with the current chairman, Oregon’s Rep. Greg Walden.
“We’ve raised a lot of money–not nearly as much as the Democrats did last time around, but it wasn’t for lack of trying–no complaints,” he said.
Hunter said the bottom line is that Williams has the experience and the skills to get the job done.
“He knows how to do it–and he’s a great guy. I just like him.”