The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported a massive cash advantage over its Republican rival weeks before Election Day, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed Thursday.
The DCCC had $24.8 million in the bank as of Oct. 13 and also reported taking out a $17 million Bank of America loan on Oct. 6, which the committee has not had to use so far. The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, reported $11.3 million on hand in its pre-general election fundraising report, which covers the period of Oct. 1-13.
The disparity largely reflects differing spending strategies that saw Republicans pour more money far earlier into races across the nation. But the new figures reveal that Democrats caught up to Republicans in overall spending in the first half of the month and are better positioned to help vulnerable candidates in the final weeks of the campaign.
Republicans will largely depend on money flowing in from third-party conservative groups to bolster their candidates in the final week of the campaign.
Indeed, the NRCC spent $9.3 million on independent expenditures in the reporting period and has spent more than $31.8 million on IEs to try to influence the elections. The DCCC, by comparison, spent $17.1 million on IEs over the 13-day period and has spent more than $35.8 million so far in IEs during the fall campaign.
The NRCC acknowledged its competitor’s cash advantage but questioned the wisdom of the Democrats’ strategy.
“The question is, have they waited too long?” NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay said. “Not only has the DCCC been outspent in the last several weeks, they have seen a rapidly expanding playing field that is creating competitive races in deep-blue seats. They’re now engaged in a risky game of Whac-a-Mole, while we took advantage of the political environment early in order to help put our candidates in a position to win.”
Indeed, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) says 95 to 100 seats are in play. And Republicans need to flip just 39 seats to assume control of the House.
The DCCC did not respond to questions about the new figures.
The NRCC reported receiving at least $2.1 million in Member transfers during the period. Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) led the pack with a $550,000 transfer on Oct. 12. Other Republicans who gave more than $100,000 to the NRCC in the period were Reps. Ed Royce (Calif.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Buck McKeon (Calif.), Dave Camp (Mich.).
The new FEC reports also showed several Republican candidates donated tens of thousands to the NRCC during the reporting period. Specifically, the Republican candidates transferred more than $128,000 from their campaign accounts to the NRCC. Some of the candidates giving included GOP hopefuls that were locked in close races until recently.
For example, heart surgeon Larry Bucshon, the Republican running in Indiana’s 8th district open seat, transferred $4,000 to the NRCC on Oct. 13. Bucshon is the favorite to win against state Rep. Trent Van Haaften (D) as Democrats have essentially conceded the race. The DCCC canceled IE spending plans there less than two weeks ago.
Some Republican incumbents thought to be in competitive races also contributed to Republicans’ overall effort to assume control of the House. They include Rep. Charlie Dent (R), who’s facing top Democratic recruit John Callahan in Pennsylvania’s 15th district. Dent gave $37,000 to the NRCC between Oct. 8-13, suggesting the Republican will likely be fine on Election Day.
On the Democratic side, Members transferred more than $530,000 to the DCCC in the reporting period. They were led by Rep. Ed Markey (D), who donated $100,000 on Oct. 13.
Democratic hopeful Karen Bass (D), who’s heavily favored to replace retiring Rep. Diane Watson (D) in Southern California’s 33rd district, transferred $50,000 to the DCCC on Oct. 13.