Democratic Party committees entered April with $22 million more to help their congressional candidates than Republicans, a reversal of four years ago.
The Democratic National Committee and the party’s Senate and House fundraising arms had $58 million to spend as of March 31, compared with $36 million for the corresponding Republican groups. In March 2006, before the last midterm election, the Republicans had $84 million in the bank and the Democrats had $65 million.
“The Democrats are in charge of both houses and will be until at least January,” said Mark Heesen, president of the Arlington, Virginia-based National Venture Capital Association, which gave 78 percent of its donations to the majority party. “They hold the committee chairmanships, which mean they hold the gavel and they’re the ones who can bring up issues or squash issues.”
Four years ago, the Republicans’ fundraising advantage came largely from the national committee, which had $43 million in the bank compared with $10 million for its Democratic counterpart.
This time around, the Democratic National Committee had about $15 million cash on hand, compared with $11 million for the Republican National Committee.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised about $59 million from the beginning of 2009 through March 31, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised about $74 million. The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $56 million and the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $54 million.
Wall Street helped give a fundraising edge to Democratic committees and candidates. Employees in the securities and investment industry made $34.3 million in donations last year, about the same as in 2007, with 62 percent going to Democrats, the party’s largest share in a non-election year in the 20 years of data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.
One reason for the increased Democratic share is that investors aren’t unanimously opposed to proposed financial regulations making their way through Congress, said Joe Keefe, president and chief executive officer of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Pax World Management LLC, which manages $2.4 billion.
“There are a lot of veteran Wall Street professionals calling for greater regulation,” Keefe said.
Large donations to the Republican committee, those of more than $20,000, are down, Federal Election Commission statistics show. Through December, the committee had taken in $2.1 million from big donors, Four years earlier, the largest donors accounted for $17.4 million.
Money from large donors to the Democratic National Committee during the same period increased to $11.7 million in 2009 from $3.3 million in 2005.
California Republican Chairman Ron Nehring said the difference can be explained by which party controls the White House. In 2005, the president, George W. Bush, was a Republican. Now, Democratic President Barack Obama is in office.
“Top donors are driven,” Nehring said. “They would like to talk to people whose address is at the White House.”
Republicans said they’ll close the gap with Democrats as electoral forecasts showing possible big gains in November.
“When it becomes more and more obvious that the Republicans are going to make major, major gains this year, you’re going to see that money evening out,” said Republican fundraiser Frank Donatelli, executive vice president of the lobbying and public affairs firm McGuireWoods Consulting LLC.