By Philip Elliott
WASHINGTON: The major campaign committees collected almost a half-billion dollars in 2013 — a year when just two states chose governors, two had special Senate elections and six House districts had unplanned races — and spent most of it.
That eye-popping sum doesn’t capture the millions raised and spent by the candidates themselves or the outside groups and advocacy organizations that plan to play a major role in 2014’s federal elections, which could tilt the balance of power in the Senate and perhaps the House, and races for governor in 36 states. Friday’s reports to the Federal Election Commission hint that November’s elections will be awash with cash.
The two political parties’ federal campaign committees raised $371 million for federal races and spent just shy of $300 million. Add in the governors, and the total haul grows to almost $450 million.
Friday’s top-line numbers put Democrats slightly ahead of Republicans, but not by a margin that would decide the fate of candidates in 2014. Taken with the Democratic National Committee’s almost $16 million debt and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s $3.75 million in red ink, they are roughly even.
The DNC started 2013 with $20 million in debt. The DSCC started its year with $15.7 million in debt.
Heading into this year, the reports suggest heavy spending will be the norm. The Republican National Committee alone spent $76 million last year, largely on rebuilding its campaign technology and hiring operatives to work alongside state parties.
“The reason we did pretty well raising money in 2013 is that we were selling a plan to the people that were going to invest in the RNC,” party Chairman Reince Priebus has said.
The Republican National Committee said it raised almost $81 million last year and has $9 million in hand to keep working on a technology gap that, in part, cost it the last two presidential races. The RNC said it’s debt-free.
The RNC outraised the Democratic National Committee, which took in — and spent — about $65 million. The DNC ended the year carrying $15.6 million in debt.
The Democrats’ committee to elect members to the House raised almost $76 million last year to fund its effort to retake the majority. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported it has $29.3 million in the bank.
The National Republican Congressional Committee trailed, raising almost $61 million and banking $21 million for this year’s elections.
On the Senate side of Capitol Hill, Democrats’ campaign committee raised $52.6 million to defend their majority. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also reported it had banked $12 million, but it had $3.75 million in debt heading into the election year.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $36.6 million last year and had $8 million banked. It had no debt, meaning it had roughly the same amount of cash to send to its candidates as its Democratic rival.