By Peter Savodnik - 01/04/06 12:00 AM EST
Republican campaign committees stormed into 2006 with a nearly 2-to-1 collective cash advantage over Democrats, despite the president’s poor poll numbers and GOP scandals on Capitol Hill.
According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission late last month, noted on politicalmoneyline.com, the Republicans ended November with $61 million in the bank compared to the Democrats’ $41 million.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) led the pack, raising $6.1 million in November and ending the month with nearly $32 million on hand.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) reeled in approximately $5.4 million during the same period and had $7.3 million available.
Of the three Democratic committees, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), only the DSCC outpaced its GOP counterpart.
Under the leadership of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the DSCC raised more than $3.6 million in November, wrapping up the month with $22.4 million in its coffers.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), led by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), brought in a little under $2.4 million. The committee has nearly $9.2 million in the bank.
Bert Carp, an attorney at the Washington lobbying shop Williams & Jensen, lavished praise on Schumer and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the DCCC chairman. Carp added that Schumer had done an excellent job at recruiting candidates.
Carp, who has given the DSCC nearly $100,000 in recent years and worked for Walter Mondale when the Minnesota Democrat was a senator, declined to comment on Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC.
“I’m not going there,” Carp said of Dean, who has rankled many Democrats by weighing in on controversial debates on Iraq and Social Security, among other issues.
Jerry Crawford, an attorney in Des Moines, Iowa, and the chairman of Sen. John Kerry’s 2003-2004 presidential campaign in Iowa, said that he has not heard much about the DNC’s fundraising operation but added that there is concern about the committee’s less-than-stellar figures.
Crawford, a frequent donor to the DSCC and leading Democrats such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and former Sen. Bob Kerrey (Neb.), said Emanuel had won plaudits in Iowa for making John Lapp the DCCC’s executive director. Lapp ran Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s (D) 2002 reelection campaign.
Mark Stephens, the NRSC executive director, speculated that Democratic donors are reluctant to give to Dean and are channeling their support to Schumer, a theory that would also explain why Dole, Stephens’s boss, has had trouble keeping pace with the DSCC.
“I think there’s a lot of high-dollar money that’s a little skittish about giving to Chairman Dean,” Stephens said. Referring to Schumer, he said, “I think he’s been able to take advantage of that.”
The DNC’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, countered that the committee’s fundraising was 20 percent higher in 2005 than it had ever been in a non-election year. The committee expects to have raised $51 million total last year.
Earnest added that the DNC spent the past year building its grassroots infrastructure, funneling money to state parties for an array of local and state needs: organizing Hispanic voters, upgrading computer systems and, more generally, boosting the party’s visibility around the country with local party outposts, voter registration and recruiting candidates for local elected posts. The committee also gave the DSCC $1 million and the DCCC $750,000 in the beginning of the year, he said.
What’s more, Earnest said, the DNC has expanded its donor base by creating the Democracy Bonds program. “This is an opportunity for people literally to buy a chunk of the Democratic Party,” he said. He noted that in the immediate wake of the program’s launch, over the summer, 15,000 new donors came on board.
Similarly, Stephens, the NRSC executive director, said the GOP senatorial committee had focused in 2005 on low-dollar donors. The committee’s goal, he said, is to have “hundreds of thousands” of $25-$100 donors in its digital Rolodex whom the committee can tap time and again as Election Day nears.
Stephens added that while the NRSC will be able to count on the RNC for critical support in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, the DNC, with its meager bank account, would not be in a position to do the same for Democrats in tight races.
Critical RNC support, Stephens said, could include getting out the vote and running independent-expenditure ads. That would free the NRSC to attack, says, Bob Casey, the Democratic state treasurer challenging Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R).
“There’s been a lot of focus on Senator Santorum,” Stephens said. “There’s been very little focus on Casey and his record. It may be important that Casey’s record be put out to the voters.”
CASH RAISED IN NOVEMBER CASH ON HAND
RNC $6.1 million $32 million
DNC $5.4 million $7.3 million
NRSC $2.4 million $9.2 million
DSCC $3.6 million $22.4 million
NRCC $3.8 million $19.5 million
DCCC $2.5 million $11.2 million
Source: Political Moneyline.com