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It’s Already a Good GOP Year

Three Committees Maintain Fundraising Advantage Through May

The three Republican Party committees continued their fundraising dominance over their Democratic counterparts in May, setting the stage for a similar rout when the July quarterly filing period ends on Monday.

The disparity was most blatant between the National Republican Congressional Committee, which raised $8 million in May and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which brought in $1.5 million last month. For the first five months of the cycle, the NRCC collected $39 million to the DCCC’s $10 million.

On the Senate side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee raked in $3.3 million in the month and banked almost $4 million. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $1.1 million in May with roughly $2 million on hand.

Both Republican Congressional committees benefited from a major event at the new Washington Convention Center in May, headlined by President Bush that raised $22 million, of which only a portion is reflected in these reports.

Meanwhile, both Democratic committees still carry significant debt; the DCCC paid off $829,000 in May but still stood $4.3 million in arrears. Its Senate partner had almost $5 million in debts left over from the previous cycle.

The NRCC paid off the final $1 million of the $6 million debt it incurred in 2002, while the NRSC had previously eliminated its relatively minor debt.

Although the Democratic National Committee has no debt, it finds itself in a similar financial situation as the two other Democratic committees.

In May, the DNC raised $2.7 million to the Republican National Committee’s $9.8 million. The RNC also had more money left in its campaign coffers — $21 million to $4.2 million.

The DNC was set to close that gap somewhat Wednesday night with the first of its five planned fundraisers designed to raise money for the eventual presidential nominee. The Washington, D.C., event, due to be attended by at least seven of the party’s nine White House contenders, was expected to raise between $1.5 million and $1.7 million for the committee.

The overwhelming Republican financial advantage at each level seems to reinforce the conventional wisdom that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, passed in the 107th Congress, will cripple Democrats’ ability to stay financially competitive with the GOP for the next several cycles.

The law banned the raising and spending of soft money, which could be accepted in unlimited chunks. Over the past several cycles Democrats had grown increasingly dependent on soft-money donations to stay within shouting distance of Republicans, who have a far superior small-dollar donor network.

Seeking to exploit their edge, Republicans have sunk considerable sums into prospecting for new givers; the NRCC alone has added 200,000 donors to its lists.

These new members have not come cheap for the NRCC, however. The committee has spent $36 million through May; the DCCC expended $6.5 million in that time.

The NRCC slowed its spending in May, however, adding $2.1 million to its cash-on-hand total, bringing it from $3.3 million at the end of April to $5.4 million at May’s close.

House Democrats can take some solace that at this point in the 2002 cycle, they had raised $4.9 million, less than half of their current total. Unfortunately for the Democrats, House Republicans have nearly tripled the $15 million in hard money they had raised through June 2001.

The next quarterly fundraising reports, due to be submitted to the Federal Election Commission by July 15, cover the period from April 1 to June 30.

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