Senate Democrats Ahead in Cash Race

By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 21, 2006

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee continued to outpace the National Republican Senatorial Committee in fundraising, bringing in more contributions and finishing the quarter with twice as much money in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission reports released yesterday.

In years past, through the 2002 elections, the NRSC consistently crushed the DSCC in the race for cash. In the 2001-2002 cycle, the GOP committee raised $154.4 million, compared with the Senate Democrats' $60.3 million.

But this trend has been turned in recent years. In the 2003-2004 cycle, Democrats for the first time pulled ahead of the NRSC. There have been growing complaints in Republican circles about the chairmanship of Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.), who was elected to the post in part because of her reputation as a fundraiser.

The DSCC reported raising $6.9 million in March, bringing its total for the 2005-2006 cycle to $56.4 million, with $32.1 million in the bank. The NRSC reported raising $5 million in March, bringing its total to $50.4 million for the cycle, with $16.5 million in the bank.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the DSCC chairman, declared: "We've got the wind at our backs, because Americans know that the best way to get change in Washington is to get more Democrats elected to the Senate."

In an equally significant development, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported having $23 million in the bank, almost equaling -- for the first time in memory -- the cash balance of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which was $24.4 million.

"The days of the 'strategic cash advantage' are over," declared Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the DCCC, which raised $9.2 million in March, the same amount as the NRCC. The DCCC has raised a total of $52.8 million in the 2005-2006 cycle, compared with the NRCC's $83.3 million.

The Democratic National Committee reported quarterly figures showing that it has raised $74.1 million so far in the 2005-2006 cycle. That puts the party on track to break its 2001-2002 record of $93.4 million for a year with no presidential election -- with the best months for pulling in cash still to come as the midterm elections approach.

But the DNC had only $10 million in the bank, less than a quarter of the Republican National Committee's $43 million balance. Democrats in both the House and the Senate have complained that the poor cash-on-hand position of the DNC threatens to undermine the party's ability to finance get-out-the-vote efforts.

The RNC has collected $141.9 million in the current cycle, nearly twice as much as the DNC, or about 1.9 to 1, compared with the 2.3 to 1 ratio in the 2001-2002 cycle.

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