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DSCC Extends Its Cash Edge

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee grew its cash advantage over its GOP counterpart by $5 million in June, soon-to-be-filed fundraising reports will show.

The DSCC raised more than $17.5 million in the second quarter of the year — including almost $8.6 million last month — and ended June with close to $20.4 million on hand. The committee also is still shouldering $4.5 million in debt from the previous cycle.

National Republican Senatorial Committee officials last week said they had raised an estimated $3.3 million in June and almost $8.6 million in the quarter. The NRSC ended last month with $5.5 million in available cash and no debt.

For the 2008 election cycle to date, the DSCC has raised $31.2 million compared with the NRSC’s $15.7 million.

“We’ve had a great team effort from our Democratic Senators and our contributors,” DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said. “People realize this will be a historic election. … We’re getting contributions from people who have never contributed to us before because they believe increasing the majority in a Democratic Senate will help put the country on the right path.”

Republican fundraising has struggled across the board so far this cycle, sagging under the weight of President Bush’s unpopularity and dwindling public support for the Iraq War.

At the same time, Democrats on both sides of the Capitol have seen record fundraising hauls thus far in the first Congress they have controlled in 12 years.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ended June with $19.5 million in the bank, while the National Republican Congressional Committee is expected to show a couple million dollars on hand, Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said last week. Both the NRCC and DCCC have significantly paid down their debts from the 2006 cycle.

The DSCC’s cash advantage is due in part to the fact that Senate Democrats are paying their debt down at a slower rate than the other committees. It began the cycle with $6 million in debt.

The DSCC, like the DCCC, is ahead of where it was money-wise in the previous cycle.

As of the end of June 2005, the DSCC had raised a total of $22.7 million and had $15.2 million on hand.

At that same time, the NRSC had raised $20.9 million and showed $8 million in the bank. At the time, then-NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) faced some criticism from within the party for lagging fundraising.

This is the second cycle in a row the DSCC has been chaired by Schumer, who has widely been given credit for the fundraising success.

The NRSC is chaired by Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), who set an overall fundraising goal of $119 million for the committee at the start of the election cycle. He has said one of his biggest challenges is getting his fellow Republican Senators more involved in fundraising and contributing to the collective cause from their own campaign funds. He has asked Republican Senators to contribute $30 million toward the $119 million fundraising goal for the cycle.

Republicans are defending 22 Senate seats next year, while Democrats must protect just 12.

Republicans are still waiting to hear about possible retirements in Virginia and Nebraska, both of which have the potential to become costly open-seat contests.

Still, Republicans argue that their incumbents are in good financial shape and that Democrats have yet to produce top-tier challengers against some of the Senators perceived to be most vulnerable. Chief among them in that group are Sens. John Sununu (N.H.) and Gordon Smith (Ore.).

In the previous cycle, the Republican National Committee was able to step in and help fund some of the most competitive Senate races, but it would seem unlikely the RNC would be in a similar position to do so with its attention and resources focused on the presidential election.

The Democratic National Committee also contributed several million to the DSCC’s efforts in the previous cycle.

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