Chris Cillizza's Trail Mix: Scenes from the campaign trail

Friday, October 15, 2010; 12:01 AM

RGA bringing in the big bucks

The Republican Governors Association collected $31 million over the past three months and ended September with $31.5 million on hand, a stunning total that could allow the organization to majorly expand the playing field over the final few weeks of the 2010 campaign.

"The RGA is in position to make significant gains in critical swing states as well as those states projected to gain or lose seats after reapportionment," said RGA Executive Director Nick Ayers.

The Democratic Governors Association collected $10 million from July 1 to Sept. 30 and ended last month with $13 million in the bank.

The RGA is running ads in a dozen states: Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin. The committee has spent $1 million or more in 17 states, $3 million or more in nine states and $5 million or more in six states.

DCCC outraising NRCC

In other fundraising news, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart $15.9 million to $11.2 million in September, according to numbers released by both committees Thursday.

The Democrats' fundraising advantage should help them as they attempt to beat back what is looking more and more like a hazardous election. But Republicans are benefiting from tens of millions of dollars in spending from outside groups - something that is not being matched on the Democratic side.

The DCCC has outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee by about $20 million this election cycle. The DCCC has also been stockpiling its cash for the final weeks of the campaign, and it had a whopping $41.6 million cash on hand at the beginning of the month, compared with $19 million for the NRCC.

Bad prediction for Democrats

While the money numbers provided some optimism for House Democrats, the Cook Political Report rained on their parade by upping its prediction about GOP House gains. Democrats now have a greater chance of losing at least 50 seats than they do of holding their losses to fewer than 45 seats, Cook Report House Editor David Wasserman wrote.

"For every isolated race in which a last-minute scandal sinks a Republican," he wrote, "there are ten races in which Republicans are steadily closing in on Democratic leads." Wasserman added that "what's scariest for Democrats isn't necessarily their dire predicament today, but that their messages against Republicans aren't sticking or helping them recover ground across the map."

Republicans need to gain 39 seats to retake the lower chamber - a scenario that once looked distant but now looks increasingly likely. Cook and fellow political prognosticator Stu Rothenberg have said for months that Democratic control of the House is in deep jeopardy.

Ad nauseam

The "hicky" controversy in West Virginia's Senate race - yes, you read that right - took another strange turn Thursday when the National Republican Senatorial Committee acknowledged that its media consultant, Jamestown Associates, had used the derogatory word in a casting call seeking actors for an ad.

That was a reversal from earlier in the week when the NRSC said the casting call was written without any direction from the committee or Jamestown. "Upon learning these facts this morning, the NRSC immediately fired Jamestown Associates," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said.

The back-and-forth over the ad, which was taken off the air last week, has sapped some Republican momentum in the race where businessman John Raese (R) is trying to upend popular Gov. Joe Manchin (D).

Staff writers Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.

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