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DC lobbyists to attend Perry fundraiser

Power DC lobbyists will be attending a fundraiser for Rick Perry tonight. But how many will turn out?
That is the key question today when the Texas governor flies to town for what is being touted as his "Washington kickoff"-- two gala fundraisers at the Willard Hotel and at the private home of local auto magnate Mandell Ourisman.

The Willard Hotel event is being billed as a lobbyists' extravaganza: a copy of the invite obtained by NBC News lists a 28 member host committee -- at least 20 of whom are K Street lobbyists, including veteran big money GOP fundraisers as Dirk Van Dongen (president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors), Marc Lampkin (a principal at Quinn-Gillespie who represents, among many others, the Blackstone Group and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway), Roy Coffee (a former aide to President George W. Bush who represents Texas banking interests) and others with bulging client lists that include Wall Street equity funds, insurance companies, big pharmaceutical firms and many others.

Each member of the host committee, according to the invite, is committed to raising $10,000 -- so with full participation, Perry should net $280,000 and another $120,000 at the later event at the Ourisman home.

But a DC lobbying source tells NBC the host committee remains a list in flux because organizers have had trouble nailing down commitments from other top lobbyists they had hoped to include. The problem reflects new doubts about Perry, both because of his rough debate performance last week and questions about whether he will have the staying power to make it through the primary gauntlet, says the DC lobbyist who has been courted by organizers of the event.

The cash collected tonight will be a crucial test, because it comes just days before the Sept. 30 quarterly filing deadline. When the final tallies are reported, Perry is widely viewed as needing an impressive number -- at least $15 million or so -- to maintain his status as the GOP front-runner.