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Cheney Boosts NRSC to a $1 Million Edge

Senate Republicans outraised their Democratic counterparts by roughly $1 million in the past three months, fueled largely by a late September fundraising dinner featuring Vice President Cheney, according to figures provided Friday.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee brought in $6.5 million from July 1 to Sept. 30; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $5.3 million during that same period.

Both committees emphasized that they are still counting donations and calculating expenses from the third quarter.

The NRSC raked in $7.5 million at its annual Senatorial dinner Sept. 24. The dinner is one of two major fundraising events of 2003 for the committee. The other, which President Bush keynoted in May, raised $8 million for the committee. All told, the NRSC has raised $21 million this cycle.

“We are aggressively raising the resources we’ll need to impact races next year,” said NRSC Communications Director Dan Allen.

Allen pointed out that in all of 1999 the NRSC raised $21 million in hard and soft money combined and ended that year with just $5.3 million on hand.

Through September 2001, however, the NRSC had raised $21.4 million in hard dollars, roughly $300,000 more than the organization has brought in so far this year.

Due to the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2002, national party committees are banned from raising and spending nonfederal soft money, which was raised in unlimited chunks.

In past cycles, the committees had used large soft-money donations to fund vast issue-advocacy advertising campaigns in a variety of Senate and House races nationwide.

Although the NRSC held a somewhat narrow edge over Senate Democrats in dollars raised in the third quarter, it still retained a healthy cash-on-hand advantage.

The NRSC banked $7 million through September, compared to $2.5 million for the DSCC. In addition, the NRSC had no debt remaining from the 2002 cycle, while the DSCC still owed $2.4 million.

Even so, DSCC Communications Director Mike Siegel maintained that the organization “continue[s] to remain in one of the strongest positions in our history to help our candidates.” He added that the DSCC’s third-quarter haul was a 60 percent increase in hard-dollar donations from this point in 2001.

Siegel said the largest DSCC event of the period was an issues forum held Sept. 15 in Washington, D.C., that featured 25 Democratic Senators. He could not provide an estimate of the take from that gathering.

On the House side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought in $5.6 million for the quarter and banked $6.5 million at the end of September.

The National Republican Congressional Committee said its numbers for the third quarter were not available at press time Friday.

So far in 2003, House Democrats have raised $21 million, equal to their donations in hard and soft money in all of 1999 and just $2 million less than their hard- and soft-dollar contributions in 2001.

“If you compare where we have been in past cycles when we have been able to spend $1 million on 15 races we are on track to do that,” said Communications Director Kori Bernards.

Bernards pointed out that for the fourth month in a row the DCCC had collected better than $1 million from its direct-mail efforts.

Both Bernards and Siegel predicted that recent developments on the political landscape would pay financial dividends in the future.

“With things going the way they are with the economy and the president’s popularity dropping we think things can only get better,” Bernards said.

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