Democratic Senate campaign arm raises $7.2 million in February, besting GOP group

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Greg Nash

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) pulled in more than $7 million last month, besting its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), as the two groups gear up for a high-stakes midterm election in 2022.

The DSCC raised more than $7.2 million in February and entered March with $10.2 million in the bank, according to numbers obtained first by The Hill on Thursday. 

By comparison, the NRSC raked in about $6.4 million in February, the committee announced last week, though it is expected to report nearly $5 million more than the DSCC in cash reserves and far less debt.

Most of the DSCC’s fundraising in February — 65 percent — came from grassroots donations made through online platforms, phone calls and mail, the committee said. The average online contribution to the group last month was $24. 

The $7.2 million announced by the DSCC is a stunning amount for the committee in February of a year without any regularly scheduled federal elections. In 2017, the group reported raising less than $3.8 million in February and had only about $7.2 million in cash on hand.

Between February 2019 and last month, the DSCC said it saw a 363 percent increase in individual online giving. 

To be sure, the DSCC entered 2021 with quite a bit of debt after a grueling and expensive 2020 election cycle. The group’s most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), submitted last month, showed an even $20 million in debts and obligations.

The DSCC said that it paid down $2 million of its election-related debt in February. Both the DSCC and NRSC will file their February financial reports with the FEC later this week.

Democrats and Republicans are scrambling to stockpile cash ahead of what is expected to be an expensive and hard-fought battle for Senate control in 2022. 

Democrats hold an effective majority in the Senate after winning a pair of runoff elections in Georgia earlier this year. But the party still holds only 50 seats in the upper chamber and is relying on Vice President Harris to cast tie-breaking votes in their favor. If Republicans can add just one more seat to their roster in 2022, they will regain their once-coveted Senate majority.

But Republicans will still have to defend 20 seats next year compared to Democrats’ 14. What’s more, a handful of GOP incumbents have announced their retirements ahead of the midterms, opening up the possibility of bruising primary fights in competitive states, like North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Two more Republican incumbents, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), have not yet said whether they intend to run for reelection next year, injecting an air of uncertainty into the Iowa and Wisconsin Senate races.

The GOP’s best pickup opportunities in 2022 are in Arizona and Georgia, two states where first-term Democrats only narrowly beat Republican incumbents. The party is also eyeing potential targets in New Hampshire and Nevada. 

Democrats are heading into the midterms at a historical disadvantage, given that they now control both chambers of Congress and the White House. Typically, the president’s party loses seats in the first midterms following their election. 

But the party is also riding high after passing a far-reaching $1.9 trillion stimulus package that Democrats are hoping to wield as a campaign tool next year.

In a statement, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the chair of the DSCC, touted the group’s February fundraising haul as a sign that Democrats have “clear momentum,” saying that the DSCC is “hitting the ground running to defend and expand our majority.” 

“As Democrats work to deliver progress for the American people while Republicans grapple with a wave of retirements, this record-breaking haul makes clear that our grassroots community of small-dollar donors remains energized about winning in 2022,” he said.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Chuck Grassley DSCC FEC Federal Election Commission Fundraising Gary Peters NRSC Ron Johnson Senate races

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