Atlanta – The Democratic National Committee still lagged its Republican rivals in fundraising despite the left’s grassroots energy since President Donald Trump’s election.
But financial disclosure reports at the start of this election year also showed other Democratic groups and many individual candidates in stronger positions.
Republicans said the RNC’s financial strength will yield a superior campaign organization as they defend their majorities in Congress and advantages in U.S. statehouses. Democrats said they’ll have the resources to win and noted the party’s electoral successes in down-ballot races throughout 2017.
A look at part of the campaign finance picture:
■The Republican National Committee raised $132.5 million in 2017 and ended the year with almost $39 million on hand and no debt. The Democratic committee took in $66 million and had $6.5 million in cash available, but also owed $6.1 million.
The RNC said its cash helped them build out their voter data operation and field offices intended to benefit GOP nominees around the country. Trump helped the party committee raise money during 2017 through a joint agreement that also benefited his re-election campaign.
Democratic Party aides said Chairman Tom Perez has had a difficult rebuilding job but noted the DNC’s 2017 haul was more than what the party raised in previous off years, including the year ahead of the 2006 midterms when Democrats regained control of Congress and years when President Barack Obama helped raise money.
Obama headlined one DNC fundraiser in 2017, and party leaders hoped to use him more.
■Democrats’ House campaign committee topped its GOP counterpart for 2017, raising $105 million to the Republicans’ $85 million. Democrats boasted more than 250,000 first-time donors online, a sign of enthusiasm among the party’s core supporters.
But the Republican committee had $44 million cash available, compared to $38 million for Democrats. Republicans also will get a boost from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a political action committee aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan. CLF raised $26 million in 2017 and hoped to back GOP nominees with voter turnout operations in about three dozen districts.
Democrats must flip 24 GOP-held seats to regain a majority, and believe they can force Republicans to defend even more seats.
■Democrats are defending 26 Senate seats, counting two independents who caucus with them; 10 of those seats are in states Trump won in 2016. Republicans are defending just eight seats as they try to hold their 51-49 edge.
The GOP’s most vulnerable incumbent, Nevada’s Dean Heller, was outraised by Democrat Jacky Rosen more than 2-to-1 during the last three months of 2017, though Heller still has more to spend.
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