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DCCC Raises $7M

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $7 million between Jan. 1 and March 31, its largest ever hard-money take in the first quarter of a non-election year.

Although its fundraising total was dwarfed by the $22 million brought in by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the DCCC was significantly more frugal, retaining $4.7 million in its campaign coffers to the NRCC’s $1.8 million.

The NRCC did, however, pay off $3.5 million of their $6 million debt left over from the 2002 cycle; the DCCC remained $6 million in arrears when April began.

DCCC Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) attributed the committee’s early success to “a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] as leader.”

Brendan Daly, communications director for the Minority Leader, said Pelosi takes her responsibilities to the DCCC very seriously.

“Her day job is leader of the Caucus and her night job is to take back the House,” he said. Daly also noted that Pelosi’s status as the first female leader of either party and her emphasis on clearly delineating differences between the parties have energized the Democrats’ donor base.

At nearly every campaign event Pelosi pledges that “never again will Democrats go into an election without a national message,” according to Daly.

On the Senate side of the ledger, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is expected to report $5.3 million raised with $1.5 million on hand when March ended, according to an informed Republican source. The committee will show no debt.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released its numbers earlier this week, posting $4.4 million raised. They did not reveal their cash-on-hand figures but carried a $6 million debt at the end of the quarter.

Official reports are due at the Federal Election Commission on April 15.

Despite being outraised by House Republicans at a better than 3-1 clip, the DCCC has far eclipsed its hard-dollar fundraising totals at this point in the past two cycles.

“We never expect to raise as much money as Republicans do,” said DCCC Communications Director Kori Bernards. “We expect to raise enough money to run good campaigns and we are very much on target to do that.”

In 2001, the committee showed $7.5 million raised but that included roughly $4 million in soft money. In 1999, the DCCC raised $6.9 million in hard and soft money through March 31.

For the entire 2002 cycle, the three Republican Party committees outraised their Democratic counterparts by more than $225 million in hard money.

Since the start of the year, the DCCC’s beefed-up direct-mail operation has brought in $1.7 million. The program has depended heavily on new donors brought into the committee by Pelosi. The DCCC has mailed nine fundraising letters bearing the Minority Leader’s signature since Jan. 1.

“She spends an awful lot of time fundraising,” Daly said.

Perhaps the most surprising number, however, is the $2.1 million the committee has raised from the Democratic Caucus.

“With new campaign finance laws we are all part of the team now,” said Matsui. “Members have been responding.”

Although the committee’s full March report is not yet available, through the first two months of the year the committee had received $25,000 contributions from the campaign accounts of Matsui and Pelosi as well as fellow California Reps. Adam Schiff, Henry Waxman, Howard Berman, George Miller, Zoe Lofgren and Mike Thompson, among others.

Matsui said there has been significant “bonding” between the new leadership team and the rank and file fueled by “a real strong feeling that we can take the House back if we work together.”

NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti was not convinced.

“Democrats are behind the eight ball and still haven’t figured out how to raise hard money,” he said.“It could be a long, hard cycle for them.”

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