- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Senate Democrats, including two Democratic-caucusing independents, enjoy a narrow 51-49 majority in the upper chamber. Democrats achieved that status by running the table in November 2006, eliminating all six endangered incumbent Republicans and, in the process, erasing the GOP’s 55-45 edge.

Amazingly, despite the Senate Republicans’ seemingly entrenched majority status, which was evident until the very end of the 2005-06 election cycle, and despite the fund-raising advantage that the business-friendly party should have been able to exploit by virtue of its chairmanships, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised far more money ($121.4 million) for its candidates during the 2005-06 cycle than its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), raised ($88.8 million) for its candidates.

Under the leadership of Sen. Chuck Schumer, the DSCC fund-raising machine humiliated the NRSC in 2007, raising nearly 75 percent more money ($55.4 million vs. $31.8 million). At the end of February, the DSCC had 115 percent more cash on hand ($32.8 million) than the NRSC ($15.3 million) had.

Now comes a report by the Federal Election Commission. Candidates of the Democratic Party, which is defending 12 seats in 2008, collectively raised $95.2 million in 2007 and had $78.4 million in cash on hand at the end of the year. Candidates of the Republican Party, which is defending 23 seats this year, collectively raised $69.2 million in 2007 and had $65.8 million in cash on hand at the end of the year.

In 2001, the off-year preceding the 2002 election (the last time this group of Senate seats faced the electorate), Democratic candidates had raised $49.5 million and Republican candidates raised $46 million. In 1995, after Republicans captured the Senate the year before, GOP Senate candidates facing voters in 1996 (the same seats that are contested this year) raised $35.5 million, which was $3.2 million more than Democratic candidates raised in 1995.

The 17 incumbent Republican senators seeking re-election this year raised $58.1 million in 2007, slightly more than the $55.9 million raised by the 12 Democratic incumbents running again. However, Democratic challengers raised a stunning $29.5 million, more than 10 times the $2.9 million collectively raised by Republican challengers, which includes $1.8 million raised by a New Jersey Republican who already has withdrawn. Excluding $4.2 million in cash on hand from a Democratic challenger from Texas who also has withdrawn, Democratic challengers at the end of last year still had nearly $13 million in cash. That’s nearly 20 times the less than $700,000 in year-end cash in the coffers of Republican challengers still competing.


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