DNC to pour $20M, plus other resources into November races
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – Bracing for potential losses in congressional and gubernatorial elections, national Democrats plan to spend $20 million to defend their candidates in November’s contests.
Democratic officials discussed the campaign push, a collaboration between top White House and congressional Democrats, on Friday only on the condition of anonymity because no announcements were ready. They said the cash would be split among the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – panels that do much of the fundraising, spending and candidate recruitment.
With evidence from polls that members of the general public are souring on Democrats, senior party officials recognize the challenges they face to maintain their majorities in the House and Senate. Officials also said the Democrats’ drive would include an aggressive program with noncash resources, such as campaign workers. Some officials estimated that effort would be worth up to $30 million.
Candidates cherish cash because it allows them to pay for polls and TV or radio ads. Central parties cherish noncash help to candidates because it allows them to have a more direct hand in how campaigns devote effort.
The number is in striking contrast to the DNC spending in 2006, the last midterm election cycle. Then-DNC Chairman Howard Dean gave less than $2 million directly to the two main campaign committees and instead sent a total of almost $21 million to build party organizations in all 50 states. The two committees advised the DNC which states had the most immediate use for those dollars to help House, Senate and gubernatorial contests.
White House and party officials met Thursday night in Washington to discuss the financial plans for November, while Obama was raising about $2.5 million for the DNC at two Miami events.
At one of the fundraisers, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine delivered a sobering assessment of the party’s chances in November, noting that the party in power traditionally sustains losses in the midterm elections.
“We sort of have to assume that we’re running into a headwind,” said Kaine, who argued that Democrats were accustomed to being underdogs.
The Democratic officials said much of the party’s focus would be on reminding 2008’s first-time voters why they liked Obama and Democrats across the board. The Obama campaign attracted many new voters, especially young people, but Democrats privately worry they may not return to the polls for midterm elections when the president is not on the ballot.
Much of the effort will be based on direct field support from staff and volunteers that Organizing for America has in the states. Organizing for America, an arm of the DNC, evolved from Obama’s 2008 bid and is the president’s re-election-campaign-in-waiting.
At the end of February, the DNC had $10.7 million in cash and $3.7 million in debts. During the same period, the Republican National Committee recorded more than $9.4 million in cash with no debts.
Associated Press Writer Charles Babington contributed to this report.