News Guide: Democrats top GOP campaign committees

August 20, 2014 - 8:05 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Party-controlled campaign committees and outside groups faced a Wednesday deadline to report how much money they raised and spent last month. Highlights:

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SPENDING OUTPACES FUNDRAISING

As Election Day grows closer, many groups are spending more quickly than they are collecting checks. The groups have been socking away cash for more than a year so they could unleash millions of dollars right as voters start considering their choices in November's elections.

The tea party-aligned Senate Conservatives Fund raised almost $522,000 but spent close to $700,000 in July. The anti-tax Club for Growth Action raised $145,000 and spent $372,000. And the libertarian-leaning FreedomWorks for America brought in about $70,000 and spent more than $246,000.

Groups backing Democrats did the same. Union SEIU's political committee brought in $1.5 million in July but spent $1.8 million. The pro-abortion rights Emily's List raised $1.5 million at its main federal account and spent $2 million.

And the liberal Senate Majority PAC raised $3.2 million in July and spent $6.8 million. Its biggest donors were the United Food and Commercial Workers union and NextGen Climate Action, the environment-focused super PAC run by billionaire Tom Steyer. Both gave $500,000.

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STEYER GIVES

Steyer, a retired San Francisco investor and high-profile Democratic donor, opened his wallet for NextGen with two checks totaling $7.5 million last month. That took his total giving to his political group to $11.6 million.

Steyer has pledged to spend $50 million from his fortune to back candidates who pledge to defend the environment. He also planned to raise another $50 million from other donors.

So far, the group has raised just more than $20 million. In July, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard gave NextGen $500,000. Its only other donor, an Auburn, California, attorney, gave $1,000.

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SO DOES SOROS

The liberal House Majority PAC raised $2 million in July. Half of it came from billionaire George Soros. Another $250,000 came from Bernard Schwartz, the chairman and CEO of BLS Investments and a former executive at defense contractor the Loral Corp.

The House-focused group has now raised almost $19 million to help Democrats' uphill climb to deny Republicans control of the House for another two years.

Despite heavy spending, Republicans are expected to hold onto their House majority after November's elections due in large part to redrawn congressional districts that have left few competitive races. At the same time, the party that controls the White House typically loses seats at this point in a presidency, and President Barack Obama remains deeply unpopular in many parts of the country.

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DEMOCRATS BEST GOP AT CENTRAL-PARTY LEVEL ...

The Democratic National Committee edged past its GOP rival in fundraising, but the Republican National Committee still has a bigger bank account.

The DNC raised almost $9.3 million in July and went into August with more than $9.6 million saved for November's elections. The RNC says it raised $8.4 million last month and has almost $14 million in its account.

Both committees help candidates at all levels with data on voters, polling and strategic advice. Committees leaders also prescribe the broad policy positions for the party and, looking ahead to 2016, set the rules for how each picks its presidential nominees.

DNC officials said they had reduced its debt to less than $2 million. The DNC had seen its debt swell to almost $23 million last year. Since then, the DNC has paid off its bank loans and now only owes vendors.

The RNC has outraised the DNC in 10 of the last 19 months. But the DNC has prevailed in six of the seven months this year.

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... AND AT THE SENATE COMMITTEES ...

Senate Democrats' campaign arm outraised its GOP rival again and now has $32 million saved to help endangered incumbents defend their narrow majority.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $7.7 million in July and is ready to spend the bulk of it in an effort to turn back Republican challengers. The Democrats' campaign arm has now raised almost $104 million and, as of Aug. 1, the group has spent more than $73 million for the fall campaign.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee said over the weekend that it raised almost $5.4 million in July and has $26.6 million ready to help candidates. Fundraising summaries show Republicans with $76 million raised and $53 million spent, outpacing 2010 and 2012 efforts.

Even with improved fundraising, the GOP has been out-raised in 17 of the past 19 months.

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... AND FOR HOUSE COMMITTEES, TOO

House Democrats' uphill effort to oust Republicans from their majority is sitting on a $56.7 million pile of cash heading into what is shaping up to be a costly fall election season. House Republicans again lagged in fundraising, but reported $47.5 million saved and ready for ads.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported raising $11.5 million in July, and a record $7 million of that came from online donors. The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $8 million in July.

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