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NRCC Maintains Financial Edge

The National Republican Congressional Committee ended February with more than twice as much money in the bank as its Democratic counterpart as both parties turn their attention to the upcoming South Dakota special election in June.

The NRCC banked $11.7 million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $5.5 million after raising $6.7 million in February.

The DCCC raised $1.8 million while spending $2.9 million in February.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee had almost $10 million more in the bank than the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the end of last month.

NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti said that the most recent financial numbers will make for some difficult funding decisions in the coming months for the DCCC.

“Democrats are going to have to choose between competing in these special elections and competing in the fall,” Forti said.

The South Dakota special election to replace former Rep. Bill Janklow (R) is slated for June 1.

The NRCC is currently running its second television commercial on South Dakota state Sen. Larry Diedrich’s (R) behalf; it had already spent nearly $250,000 on its advertising campaign through March 19. It also dispersed $22,000 to Public Opinion Strategies for a poll on the race.

The DCCC is not yet on the airwaves in South Dakota and has not made any independent expenditures in support of 2002 nominee Stephanie Herseth (D).

“We remain debt free and are confident we will be financially competitive in the fall,” said DCCC Communications Director Kori Bernards.

She added that the DCCC raised $2 million at their spring fundraiser on March 16 and that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just completed a whirlwind fundraising tour that included stops in Michigan and South Carolina.

Herseth has proven an extremely adept fundraiser in her own right, taking some of the burden off the DCCC to finance the race.

She is expected to show more than $800,000 raised in her April quarterly report, which is due at the FEC the middle of the next month.

The race in South Dakota is the second competitive House special election in the nation this year.

In Kentucky’s 6th district state Attorney General Ben Chandler (D) crushed state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (R) 55 percent to 43 percent on Feb. 17, a pickup for Democrats.

“We had a big victory in Kentucky,” said Bernards, noting that Members chipped in more than $190,000 from their campaign organizations and leadership political action committees.

A third competitive special election is possible in Louisiana’s 3rd district, where Rep. Billy Tauzin (R) has long considered leaving office before November to take a job in the lobbying community.

Tauzin is currently recovering from intestinal surgery.

A spirited race is under way to replace Tauzin regardless of when he leaves with his son, BellSouth lobbyist Billy Tauzin III (R), one of at least four candidates expected to run.

Democrats have made $1.7 million in independent expenditures since the start of the cycle, $1 million of which came in February. DCCC officials said roughly $1.4 million was spent on the Kentucky race alone.

Republicans spent $177,000 on independent expenditures in February and have spent $607,000 cycle to date.

While Senate Democrats have crowed in recent days about their fundraising momentum, February reports revealed that the DSCC still has significant financial ground to make up.

The NRSC raised $4.6 million in February to the DSCC’s $2.7 million, and the DSCC spent nearly $1.5 million more than the NRSC in the month.

Much of the DSCC’s spending went to paying off the final $1.7 million of a $6 million bank note taken out at the end of last cycle.

The DSCC retained $985,000 in vendor debt; the NRSC had $52,000 in vendor debt.

Both committees have large-dollar events on the horizon.

On Wednesday, the DSCC hosts its “Majority in the Making” spring reception, which is expected to bring in $3 million.

The President’s Dinner, which is slated for June , raised $8 million for the NRSC in 2003.

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