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DCCC Says It’s Close to NRCC Cash

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leaders think they are gaining on their Republican counterparts in the money chase and they are thrilled about it.

The DCCC will report having raised $16 million in the second quarter of this year, compared to $11 million in the first quarter, leaving it with $18.5 million in the bank, according to its spokeswoman, Kori Bernards.

Considering the National Republican Congressional Committee closed May with $18.8 million in cash on hand, Democrats believe the fundraising figures show that they can regain control of the House in November. The NRCC has not released its figures in advance of the July 15 Federal Election Commission campaign-disclosure deadline.

“Our cash-on-hand number will be very comparable to the NRCC,” said DCCC Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.). “That number is critical because that’s what you have to spend on candidates.”

Matsui predicted that his GOP rivals will report having about $20 million in the bank at the end of June despite reportedly raising $113 million this cycle.

National Journal reported that the NRCC has raised $113 million but a committee spokesman would not confirm that number Monday.

If the NRCC has raised $113 million but only put about $20 million in the bank it is an indication that “they are over-spending or just not using their money wisely,” Matsui said. “We don’t need to raise or have as much cash on hand as they do to be competitive.”

Bernards said the DCCC’s new-found ability to raise hard money combined with its 2-0 record in recent special elections puts the Democrats in position to take back the House in November.

“This fall is the perfect storm” for Democrats, she said. “We only need 11 seats — we don’t need a tsunami or even a hurricane, we just need a breeze” to regain control of the chamber the party lost 10 years ago.

Republicans like to point out that Democrats have made that prediction ever since losing the majority only to fall short but they cannot argue that Democrats have not ramped up their fundraising efforts.

The DCCC has raised $55.4 million so far this cycle compared to $57.6 million for the entire 2002 cycle — most of it the unregulated “soft money” that is now banned under the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act.

At the same point in 2002, the DCCC had $24.8 million in the bank but only $6.4 million of that was in the form of “hard” money — regulated contributions from individuals and political action committees, Bernards said.

Furthermore, Democratic Members have stepped up their contributions significantly.

House Democrats have ponied up $12.6 million to the DCCC so far, exactly double the $6.3 million they donated in all of 2001 and 2002, Bernards said.

“Members know it is just required” that they give more now, Matsui said. “The universe [of donors] has shrunk to just Members, individuals and PACs,” he said.

Democrats are doing their best to expand that universe and to that end have been very successful in the direct-mail arena, Bernards said.

In the 2002 cycle, the DCCC identified 100,000 new Democratic donors, mainly through the mail program. After making “real investments” in the program this cycle, new donors already total 230,000, Bernards said.

Democrats consider Internet solicitations as part of their direct-mail program.

“Our direct-mail effort is going very well,” Matsui said. “We hit the $20 million-plus mark,” this quarter, he said, noting that Democrats get almost 50 cents back from every $1 they spend on direct-mail solicitation.

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