Wednesday, July 26, 2006

DNC AWOL in State Party-Building

Roll Call (subscription required) reports that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC), headed by Charlie Schumer, has sent $4.6 million to more than a dozen states for advertising, get-out-the-vote, and similar efforts. This compensates for funds that have traditionally come from the DNC, but are now being spent by Howard Dean on the '50-State Strategy:'

DSCC Cash Building State Infrastructures
July 26, 2006
By Lauren W. Whittington,
Roll Call Staff

With the Democratic National Committee financially hamstrung, Senate Democrats flooded key state parties with a total of $4.6 million in the past three months to help fund air and ground wars in more than a dozen competitive races.
It was the latest evidence that House and Senate campaign strategists are not relying on the national party to build the infrastructure needed to pick up seats in battleground states.

Transfers to state parties accounted for more than 40 percent of the $10.9 million that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent in the second quarter, with Nebraska, Montana and Missouri being the top recipients.

...Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee transferred just $400,000 to affiliated committees from April to June, a small part of the $8.9 million the committee spent overall.

The DSCC had almost a 2-1 cash-on-hand advantage over the NRSC at the end of June.

But the National Republican Committee had a $44.7 million to $10.8 million cash lead over the DNC on June 30. It is expected that the RNC will have to help Senate Republicans fill in the gaps when it comes to funding competitive races down the stretch.

...Party strategists privately suggested that the largess of the DSCC’s transfers to state parties was to help build the needed infrastructure to win in November — activities that have been funded by the DNC or third-party interests in the past.

“The DSCC is spending more money on grass roots, GOTV, voter protection in 15 or so states than the DNC is doing in 50,” said one strategist familiar with the dispute between the committees.

...A spokesman for the NRSC said the committee has spent directly on behalf of GOP incumbents and challengers, instead of processing the money through state parties.

The NRSC has paid to run ads in Rhode Island, West Virginia and Montana this cycle. The ads in Rhode Island were to boost Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R), who faces a tough primary. In West Virginia, the committee ran ads last year before Sen. Robert Byrd (D) had an announced opponent...

Liberals and fans of Howard Dean have complained that stories like this - which note the complaints of Democratic Congressional leaders about the lack of DNC funds for their campaigns - are an effort to undercut Dean, and frustrate the important effort to be competitive in more states. This may be true.

But if Dean is wrong, Democrats are going to be awfully disappointed in Dean's tenure once it is over. Is his 50-state strategy an important way to ensure Democratic competitiveness for years to come, or is it flushing money down a rathole?

Time will tell.

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