- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Despite Democratic control of the White House and Congress, Republicans are holding their own in the money race, outraising the opposition in the national party sweepstakes, nearly matching them in the Senate, and trailing badly only in fundraising for next year’s House races.

The Republican National Committee took in $25.3 million in the first three months of this year, compared with $16.8 million for the Democratic National Committee, according to first-quarter reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The RNC’s much higher total, with $23.9 million cash on hand, showed continued strength for the party at a time when it draws low scores in public approval polls and President Obama and other Democrats are popular with voters. The RNC’s average donor contribution was $55.27.

The solid three-month haul also was good news for RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele’s efforts to turn around the national party’s political fortunes after the Republican Party’s disastrous losses in November’s presidential and congressional elections.

The DNC had $9.76 million in the bank but also a $6.6 million debt weighing down its finances.

The two parties were a lot more aggressive in their fundraising for next year’s Senate races, several of which are expected to be competitive.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $10.4 million and had $7.2 million in cash on hand, but it ended the three-month period owing more than it raised - $11 million.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it raised $9.6 million since January and had $2.3 million in the bank, but had only $1 million in debt.

Notably, both campaign committees were virtually tied in their Senate fundraising totals last month. Democrats raised $5 million and Republicans took in $4.9 million.

The NRSC’s much larger first-quarter total was a major achievement for its new chairman, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who has been bringing Republican senators to fundraising events to promote the party’s efforts and meet personally with donors. The Republican senatorial war chest is almost 40 percent bigger than it was during the same period in 2007.

On the House side, however, the National Republican Congressional Committee lagged far behind the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raised $17.2 million and had $3.34 million cash on hand and $8 million in debt.

This compares with the NRCC’s $8.9 million, down sharply from the $19.8 million raised in the first three months of 2005.

The NRCC’s fundraising weakness in the first quarter could hamper its efforts to make gains in next year’s House races, despite some promising opportunities. Election analyst Stuart Rothenberg, said, “Republicans simply have more opportunities for pickups than do Democrats.”

But the chances of Republicans making any gains in the Senate next year appeared bleak, Mr. Rothenberg told his Political Report newsletter subscribers Monday.

“Democrats have more and better opportunities than do Republicans, and Democratic gains in the order of 2-5 seats certainly seem reasonable,” he said.

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