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DSCC and NRSC Neck and Neck in Fundraising

The money race has intensified between the Senate campaign committees, an early reminder that the balance of power in Congress’ upper chamber is up for grabs in 2012.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported its strongest off-year quarterly total in nearly a decade, raking in $11.2 million over the first three months of the year. That’s after raising $5 million in March alone, according to numbers shared with Roll Call on Wednesday morning.

The NRSC reported nearly $1.5 million in cash on hand at the end of March with debt of $2.75 million.

But on the other side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told Roll Call that it slightly outraised the NRSC, bringing in $11.7 million over the first three months of the 2012 campaign cycle. The figures obtained by Roll Call show more than $5.6 million raised in March.

The Democratic committee, which has traditionally outraised its Republican counterpart, had $5.5 million in the bank at the end of March and reported $4.9 million in debt.

The DSCC will note in a press release later Wednesday that it finished the quarter with “significantly more cash on hand than debt,” in contrast to the NRSC.

And while Republicans were slightly outraised, the NRSC was optimistic to say the least, noting that the first-quarter haul represented the most successful off-year quarterly total since the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2002.

“Since [John] Cornyn assumed the chairmanship in 2009, his finance goals for the NRSC have been three-fold — to be careful stewards of our donors’ money, to continue to close the fundraising gap with Senate Democrats and to ensure that not a single Republican candidate loses on Election Day because of a lack of financial resources,” NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer said in a statement. “The NRSC met, and exceeded, those goals last cycle, and while we’re still up against a Senate Democrat majority and the fundraiser-in-chief in the White House, we are committed to building on this success and winning back the majority next year.”

While the nation’s Senate races won’t be decided by money alone, the strong showing by both sides is a reminder of the high stakes heading into 2012. Senate Republicans need to pick up four seats to take control of the upper chamber.

And given that they have far more pick-up opportunities — 23 Democratic Senators are up for re-election compared with just 10 Republicans — each campaign committee will be under intense pressure to funnel money into key races in the coming months.

The executive director of the Democratic committee was confident about Democrats’ chances next fall.

“The strong support we’re seeing so early in the cycle shows that we’re going to be in a position to not only protect our majority next year, but also play offense in 2012,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said in a statement. “The Republican move to end Medicare and give more tax breaks to the very rich has fueled support from our base. Our campaigns around the country are seeing that their supporters are excited and engaged earlier than ever before, and that will make the difference next year.”