By Annie Linskey
Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Party’s national committees outraised their Republican counterparts last year and are entering the 2014 U.S. elections with more money in the bank and President Barack Obama in his sixth year in office.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which focuses on U.S. House races, took in $15 million more than the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2013, according to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee surpassed the National Republican Senatorial Committee by $16 million.
Democrats will seek to use their money edge to fight a historical trend of the party of a second-term president losing seats in Congress during midterm elections. Republicans are seeking to make inroads in the Senate, where Democrats have a 55-45 advantage. Democrats need to score a net gain of 17 seats to wrest control of the House from Republicans.
A fundraising bright spot for the Republicans was their National Committee, led by Reince Priebus, which outraised the Democratic group by almost $16 million. It has about $4.5 million more in the bank and is debt free. The Democratic National Committee still owes $15.6 million from the 2012 presidential race.
“We easily outraised the DNC in 2013, meaning we entered 2014 in a position of strength and on solid financial footing,” Priebus said in a statement. The Republicans took in $80 million, compared with $64.7 million for the Democrats.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $75.8 million; compared with $60.5 million pulled in by their Republican rivals.
The National Republican Congressional Committee benefited from casino magnate Steve Wynn, and his wife, Andrea, who each contributed $21,100. The campaign of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, also chipped in, transferring $32,400 from the Romney for President account.
Eight members of the Senate, including five Democrats, have said they would leave the chamber at the end of the current session of Congress. In the House, 31 members, including 19 Republicans, have announced that they wouldn’t seek another term this year.
Democrats also held the fundraising advantage in the Senate, collecting $52.6 million in its senatorial campaign organization. Republicans, who need a net gain of six seats to take back the chamber, brought $36.6 million to their National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Of the 36 Senate elections this November, Democrats are the defending party in 21 of them, including seven in states that Obama lost in 2012.
Democrats have also invested in broad super-political action committees, which can raise money and spend unlimited amounts so long as they don’t coordinate with candidates. The House Majority PAC raised $7.7 million with the help of Donald Sussman, the founder of Paloma Partners LLC and the husband of U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree from Maine. He gave $850,000.
The Senate Majority PAC raised $8.6 million in 2013, FEC reports show, including six-figure checks from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. co-founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, gave the group $2.5 million.
Republicans also have a network of super-PACs at their disposal. American Crossroads, a group advised by Karl Rove, who served as a counselor for former President George W. Bush, spent about $10 million on congressional races in 2012, and another $90 million on the presidential election.