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Democrats Are Fractured Over Strategy, Funds

For all the heat of the exchange with Emanuel, it fundamentally concerns how far out on the horizon the party should be focusing.

Dean, arguing for a long-term perspective, said that the party must become a presence everywhere, even in very Republican states in the South and the Mountain West. He was elected on an outsider's platform that promised a "50-state strategy" as the best way to revitalize a party routed from both the White House and Congress during most of the Bush years. "We have gone from election to election, and, if we don't win, then we've dug ourselves into a deep hole and we have nothing to start with," he said. "That is a cycle that has to be broken."

"The way you build long-term is to succeed short-term," Emanuel countered.

Traditionally, the DNC has been the main conduit to finance get-out-the-vote programs considered crucial in close elections. The DNC is also allowed to give cash gifts to the House and Senate committees.

Emanuel, Schumer and other Democratic operatives anticipate that the better-funded Republican Party structure and its allies will flood competitive states and districts with money, television ads and other resources.

"The Republicans are going to muscle their way through the close elections and use their money to really move the needle in just those few districts they need to keep control," one Democratic operative warned. Another complained that the lack of cash on hand at the DNC "leaves us naked."

"We need the DNC on the field in this election," Emanuel said.

A comparison of DNC spending in 2001-2002, the previous off-year cycle, with 2005-2006 shows large increases in expenditures in every major category, according to the Federal Election Commission and PoliticalMoneyLine.

In the first 15 months of the 2005-2006 cycle, Dean spent $9.7 million on salaries, compared with $5.7 million over 24 months in 2001-2002. Dean has spent $2.8 million on political consulting, compared with $1.7 million in 2001-2002.

Dean has shifted the focus of the DNC from major donor solicitations to the Internet, direct mail and telemarketing gifts -- all of which require higher fundraising expenditures. Internet consulting and online services cost the DNC $4.1 million; postage, mailing and telemarketing costs in 2005-2006 totaled $38 million. In all of 2001-2002, the comparable expenditures were $15.2 million less: $22.8 million.

Other committees in both parties are following a more traditional strategy of husbanding resources. Emanuel's DCCC raised nearly $58 million this cycle by the end of March, with $23 million in the bank. Schumer's DSCC raised $56 million, with $32 million on hand.

On the GOP side, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $83 million, with about $24.5 million on hand, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $50 million, with $16.5 million on hand.

Research database editor Derek Willis and political researcher Zachary A. Goldfarb contributed to this report.

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