The District’s Republican Party is struggling to fix its sloppily planned annual fundraising dinner that has been jeopardized by a high entrance price, tickets printed with the wrong address and worries that it won’t make enough to pay for the Monday night shindig at the Ritz-Carlton.
“It will all work out,” said a confident Nick Jeffress, executive director of the District Republican Committee. In his new post for less than two months, he told Washington Secrets that despite earlier fears the dinner would be a bust, he now expects it to make a few thousand dollars. “We will make money on it,” he pledged.
The annual Lincoln-Douglass dinner is the D.C. GOP’s biggest fundraiser, normally producing a $12,000 profit used to help Republican city candidates. This year a key beneficiary is Tim Day, running in the Ward 5 special election May 15. Sources say he’s “livid” that the dinner likely won’t provide him with a big check.
Jeffress willingly admitted the dinner has had problems this year. First, the normal venue--the Washington Hebrew Congregation Center--was booked and only the fancy Ritz-Carlton at 21st and M Street N.W. had an opening. Next, the tickets are $150 a pop, “pricey” in a recession, said Jeffress, but not a year-over-year increase.
Third, the tickets have the wrong address on them, 3100 South Street N.W., site of the city’s other Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown. Lastly, the hotel has been promised a turnout of about 250, 60 over the average dinner attendance.
But Jeffress said he’s working overtime to address those issues and is confident that the dinner will attract 200, including some high-dollar sponsors that will put it in the black. For example, calls are being made to all ticket buyers to alert them of the correct address.
He’s also spiced up the silent auction with an expanded offering to help cushion profits. And he’s won promises from some presidential candidates to buy tickets and lobby for victory in the dinner’s presidential straw poll.