RNC, Bush Camp Have Trouble Merging Forces
Hallow, Ralph Z., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
George W. Bush had been expected to send his campaign's finance chairman, Don Evans, to lead a "friendly merger" with the Republican National Committee.
But delay in making the move is causing frustration in both organizations, party and campaign officials said.
Speculation has surfaced that Mr. Evans, longtime Bush friend and confidant, doesn't want to leave Austin for Washington or that Mr. Bush doesn't want him 1,500 miles away - and that instead of Mr. Evans, Mr. Bush will insert a trusted fellow governor or someone else as general RNC chairman over Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, the elected head of the party.
The delay has allowed people hostile to Mr. Nicholson and to RNC co-chairman Patricia Harrison to spread rumors that the Bush campaign was getting ready to dump Mr. Nicholson or Mrs. Harrison or both, campaign and party officials said.
But Bush campaign manager Joe Allbaugh last week assured Mr. Nicholson that no general chairman was being contemplated, and officials in both organizations told The Washington Times that Mr. Evans is almost certain to head the friendly merger and the only issue is timing.
Mrs. Harrison, who is popular with many Republican governors and senior Republican lawmakers, also has been assured of her role through the November elections.
The problem is that the immediate needs of Mr. Bush, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, are at odds with the needs of Mr. Nicholson and RNC Finance Chairman Mel Sembler.
"I need Don [Evans] and Jack Oliver (Mr. Evans' deputy) and six or eight of their top people here now," Mr. Sembler told The Washington Times.
The RNC needs Mr. Evans to boost the RNC's already record-shattering contributions in preparation for the Republican nominating convention July 31-Aug. 3 and for the presidential election.
Mr. Bush, however, needs Mr. Evans to continue raising "hard" - federally regulated - contributions. Only these contributions, under federal election law, may be used to finance Mr. …