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“We’re down; we’re not getting the corporate backing we did for Los Angeles three years ago,” says a DNC staffer, who puts their total take thus at about $30 million.
DNC boss Terry McAuliffe shouldn’t feel too badly, though. Those numbers mirror just about all Democratic fundraising — House, Senate, presidential, party — when compared to Republicans. The GOP has outraised the Dems in just about every area, including the national party coffers. Already the Republican Party has raised $60 million of the $65 million it is seeking for its convention in New York next year.
Part of the problem for the Democrats was the soft-money ban imposed by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and enforced by the Federal Election Commission. The Dems are so dependent on the soft money for anything they do, it was killing them in preparing for Boston, especially since their biggest benefactor in all things political, organized labor, was hamstrung on floating big bucks for the convention.
But Democrats caught a break last week when the FEC reversed itself and said that soft money was allowable for convention donations. Its reasoning in part is that corporate and union donations for conventions are made not for overtly political reasons, but to market the entities that contribute. “The FEC ruling should help us a lot,” says the DNC source. “But the concern now is will we be robbing Peter to serve Paul. If we take money for the convention, that is money that could have been used for campaigns. The unions don’t have bottomless wallets. At least their members don’t.”
The poor fundraising for the convention is also putting an unwanted spotlight on one of McAuliffe’s pet projects, an updating of the DNC’s antiquated donor database system. Two years ago, McAuliffe was claiming an updated database with tens of millions of new small donors who would put the party on par with the GOP’s successful small donor program.
As it turns out, McAuliffe’s lists have been a disaster. The party remains far behind the GOP’s donor pool, which is what continues to give Republicans hope that their grassroots programs will again help them pull off victories in the fall of 2004.
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H/T to National Review Online