The new grants are coming five days after Vice News reported that the party had “not delivered” them, raising questions about the DNC’s fundraising under chairman Tom Perez and making party leaders in swing states anxious.
“I talk to my colleagues all the time, and I know people are getting anxious,” said Ken Martin, head of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, to Vice’s Alex Thompson.
Vice’s story ran shortly before the three-day government shutdown, while the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee was meeting to debate the recommendations of a “unity reform commission” that grew out of the bitter 2016 presidential primary.
The Republican National Committee sent the story to reporters, with the party’s rapid response spokesman Michael Ahrens adding that “a well-funded RNC means a well-funded ground game and data operation in the states.” On Saturday, the president’s party funded hundreds of grass-roots voter trainings around the country; next week, when the full RNC meets in Washington, the president and vice president will participate in fundraisers, adding to its cash advantage.
The aftermath of the 2016 election put Democrats at a disadvantage that it has not overcome. President Trump, who launched his reelection campaign days after taking office, has happily lent his name and brand — and, at a price, his properties — to the RNC’s fundraising operation.
The out-of-power Democrats have broken fundraising records for individual campaigns, and seen new groups, like the Eric Holder-helmed Democratic Redistricting Project. But the DNC, which became a punching bag for supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the primaries, has lagged behind the RNC and gotten little public support from Democrats — like former president Barack Obama — who backed Perez for chair and have deep fundraising networks.
Before this month, the DNC’s highest-profile commitment to state parties was a Every Zip code Counts program that, since October, distributed $10,000 to each of the parties.