The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $4.1 million in November, compared with the $2.7 million brought in by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The DCCC now has $30.7 million cash on hand, exponentially more than the $2.3 million banked by the NRCC.
On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ended November with $25.5 million banked, more than double the cash on hand of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, with about $10.4 million.
Still, House Republican fortunes rose somewhat last month when GOP members’ campaign committees kicked in about $3 million to the NRCC — transactions that were not reported in the most recent filings. That money will go into the committee’s coffers — and not to immediately pay off the $3.35 million in debt.
But the party will need significantly more money to fully compete in an ever-widening playing field. Seventeen Republicans have announced their retirements, and more than half of them have been in seats that Democrats view as competitive. Many of these newly-open seats also lie in expensive media markets — in Chicago, New York and Columbus, Ohio — making it near-impossible for the committee to fully fund all of their challengers.
Republicans have responded by recruiting a handful of self-funded candidates in competitive districts, but the results have been mixed. Their leading recruit against freshman Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), for example, abruptly dropped out of the race last month, even though he already had spent over $300,000 on the campaign.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s favored candidate for his Aurora, Ill.-based seat, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, is a multimillionaire, but also has lost three consecutive statewide elections.
And as the year comes to a close, Republicans still lack credible recruits in some solidly-conservative districts that Democratic freshmen won last year more by virtue of their GOP predecessors’ ethical foibles than their own battle-tested campaigns.
One Ohio-based GOP operative acknowledged that freshman Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), a long-shot-candidate just two years ago, is in terrific position for reelection because of a crop of weak Republican challengers.
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), running in a district that gave President Bush 57 percent of the vote, has seen several strong prospective opponents decide not to run.
Republicans do have some reasons for optimism heading into the 2008. A left-of-center presidential nominee could hurt the party’s down-ballot candidates as the presidential race comes into focus. Conservative third-party groups, such as Freedom’s Watch, are prepared to spend millions on behalf of Republican congressional candidates next year.
In addition, the Democratic Congress remains unpopular in polls, and an anti-incumbent environment could hurt Democrats more than Republicans.
But with the Democratic committees’ advantages in fundraising, recruitment and retirements, they are in strong position to hold their majority into 2008 as they try to build on last year’s successes.