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With the Nov. 2 elections less than a month away, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has roughly twice as much money to spend in the fight for the majority as does its Democratic counterpart.

The NRSC closed September with $17.2 million in the bank, compared to the $8.8 million reported by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Equally important, the NRSC had no debt at the close of the third quarter, while the DSCC refused to disclose its debt — almost certainly meaning that it has either postponed payment on some bills to boost its cash-on-hand figure, or it has taken out a substantial loan in the hope that it can fully fund its campaign activities through Nov. 2.

“Our cash figure shows that Senate Republicans have the resources to ensure our candidates are well-positioned to strengthen the majority in the final month of the election,” said NRSC Communications Director Dan Allen.

Not all the financial news was positive for Republicans, however.

The DSCC outraised the NRSC in the quarter, bringing in $17.6 million from July 1 to Sept. 30 compared to $15.3 million for the Senate Republican arm. In September alone, the DSCC brought in $11.2 million, compared to $6.5 million for the NRSC.

Amazingly, the DSCC has eclipsed the NRSC in total fundraising for the cycle by roughly $1 million, a feat considered unimaginable in the immediate wake of the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2002.

BCRA banned the raising and spending of soft money, which could be collected in unlimited chunks. In the cycles prior to BCRA’s passage, Senate Democrats had grown increasingly dependent on soft-money donations.

“Like our momentum in our states, we are clearly showing momentum on the fundraising front,” said DSCC spokeswoman Cara Morris. “From Senate leadership to low-dollar donors, people are investing in Democratic chances to take back the majority.”

Neither the National Republican Congressional Committee nor the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had its fundraising total available by press time.

Full reports of contributions and expenditures by the campaign committees must be postmarked to the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 15.

To boost their fundraising totals, both party committees relied heavily on large transfers from sitting Senators and other party luminaries over the past month.

In September, the DSCC received a $3 million transfer from the presidential primary account of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, while Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.) cut a $1 million check to the committee.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer has pledged $2 million to the DSCC, of which $500,000 is included in its September fundraising total. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden also gave $200,000 last month.

The NRSC similarly benefited from a $1 million check from the primary account of President Bush and a $250,000 check from Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (Ky.). A matching donation from Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) came in after the Sept. 30 deadline.

Under BCRA, individual campaign committees can donate unlimited amounts to the national party committees, making them one of the richest resources for the harvesting of hard dollars.

The DCCC has said that roughly one-third of its $75 million budget must come from Members. The NRCC is currently raising money for its Battleground 2004 effort, which is aimed at raking in $16 million from the GOP Conference.

Despite the NRSC’s solid cash edge, the committee has come under increasing criticism by top-tier campaigns and some GOP consultants who are unhappy about the organization’s seeming reluctance to spend from its war chest.

The DSCC already has spent upwards of $2.5 million on an independent expenditure ad campaign on behalf of South Carolina Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D) — a blitz widely credited with getting the Democrat back into the running against Rep. Jim DeMint (R).

The NRSC, on the other hand, just went on the air Tuesday with a television buy in the Palmetto State, but that same day it scaled back the buy from a planned month of ads to only one week.

In Oklahoma, the DSCC went up with independent expenditure ads just after Labor Day hammering former Rep. Tom Coburn (R).

After $500,000 worth of ads, the NRSC struck back with an independent expenditure campaign of its own against Rep. Brad Carson (D) — but not before Carson had moved into a virtual dead heat with Coburn.

In addition to South Carolina and Oklahoma, the two committees are also airing ads in Alaska, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is facing former Gov. Tony Knowles (D), and in Colorado, a Republican-held open seat where state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) is taking on brewing magnate Pete Coors (R).

The DSCC is running ads on behalf of 2002 Senate nominee Erskine Bowles (D), who is taking on Rep. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in the contest to succeed Sen. John Edwards (D).

In South Dakota, the NRSC has been advertising for roughly a month in support of former Rep. John Thune (R) in his challenge to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D). Daschle has pledged to keep all independent groups that support him out of the state.

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