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DCCC Fundraising Surges

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $19 million in the first three months of the year and ended March with more than a $7 million cash-on-hand advantage over its Republican counterpart, fundraising reports due to be filed on Friday will show.

The first-quarter totals provide some of the starkest evidence yet of the financial windfall realized by House Democrats — now in the majority for the first time in 12 years — after their electoral victories last fall. Conversely, it highlights the new difficulties the GOP minority now faces in raking in campaign cash and shatters the fundraising advantage that House Republicans have enjoyed in recent election cycles.

More than half of the DCCC’s fundraising total for the quarter was raised in March, when the committee took in approximately $12 million.

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $15.8 million in the quarter, a significantly smaller haul than the committee had in the first quarter of both 2005 and 2003, when the GOP still held the House majority.

At the end of last month, the DCCC had $9.8 million in the bank compared to the NRCC’s $2.5 million.

Both committees significantly paid down their outstanding debts from the 2006 cycle in the first three months of the year.

The DCCC ended March with $4.9 million in debt, while the NRCC will show $7.9 million. Democrats started the cycle with a debt of about $11 million, while the NRCC’s debt stood at about $15 million.

“We’ve been able to build on the momentum and the excitement of the election with our successful 100 hours [push to pass legislation], while Republicans are struggling to find any ideas that resonate with the American people and any supporters,” said DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.

The DCCC’s $19 million is the largest yet when compared to both on-year and off-year first-quarter hauls since the implementation of the campaign finance reforms after the 2002 elections. It comes at a time when the Democratic presidential contenders collectively are raising record amounts of cash — and are far outpacing the totals collectively taken in by the Republican White House hopefuls.

In the first quarter of 2006, the DCCC raised $14.8 million and in the first three months of 2005 took in $12.4 million. In March 2003, when the Iraq War was just breaking out and President Bush was riding high in the polls, the DCCC reported raising just $7.4 million in the first quarter of the year.

The NRCC, meanwhile, raised $19.8 million in the first quarter of 2005 and $22.9 million in 2003, which coincided with the start of the previous presidential cycle.

NRCC spokeswoman Julie Shutley called the first quarter productive and said that it will only be a matter of time before Democrats will be eating their words.

“The more our donors and supporters begin to see the abysmal record that the new Democrat majority is compiling, the more they will be energized,” Shutley said. “We are confident that as we get closer to Election Day 2008, our candidates will be competitive and have the resources they need to win.”

Meanwhile, DCCC leaders also are trumpeting the fact that they have dramatically beefed up their research and rapid-response operations as part of an internal restructuring of the committee under Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) this cycle.

In the past the committee has contracted out about half of its research needs. But now the committee has doubled its research and response staff and candidate research books will be done fully in house.

One former committee staffer noted that the enhanced research capability is helpful in many ways, including the party’s ability to recruit good candidates.

All of the party campaign committees will file their April monthly reports with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

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