GOP Sees Big Surge of Donors in August
WASHINGTON - Despite being in the minority in Congress, Republican campaign committees outraised Democrats by $1.7 million in August as they have aggressively collected political cash amid the rancorous debate over health care.
Republicans also held an edge over Democrats in the amount of money available, when counting debts, as both parties set the stage for the 2010 elections where more than three dozen competitive House and Senate seats are at stake.
The GOP spike is a departure. In each of the past four years, the party in power - whether Democrat or Republican - raised more than the minority's fundraising committees in August, a USA TODAY review of campaign records shows.
"Republicans have been able to tap into some of the anger against Democrats in power and translate that into fundraising," said Nathan Gonzales of The Rothenberg Political Report. "There are a lot of Republicans who wish the election were this November, not November 2010, because they feel like the momentum is on their side now."
In the Senate, where Republicans are far outnumbered, their fundraising committee collected $3.1 million last month, compared to $2.2 million by the Democratic committee. It was the second month in a row that the Senate GOP committee outperformed Democrats - bringing its fundraising total for the year to $26.5 million, just $1 million less than the Democrats.
Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the committee has attracted more than 70,000 first-time donors this year as voters grew alarmed by President Obama's policies. "There are a lot of independents who may have voted for Obama who are now saying, 'This type of big government spending is not what we signed up for,' " he said.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) also had a fundraising bump in August, bringing in $1 million more than the Democratic National Committee. Only the House Democratic committee outraised the Republicans in August - by $200,000.
For the year, the three GOP committees have $28.3 million in available funds after expenses and debts - about $8 million more than the Democrats.
RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said the health-care debate that played out in town-hall meetings in August boosted fundraising. In the first three weeks in August, for example, the party averaged 2,000 donations a day from new donors, she said.
Democrats say they are on track for a strong showing in 2010. "We continue to raise the resources we need to accomplish our goals," Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan said. Eric Schultz, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic committee, said his group "will have more than enough funds to be competitive."