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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Money, Money, Money (and Calls)

posted by on October 19 at 12:20 PM

There’s a strong sense developing in Democratic circles that money could be the difference between a narrow Democratic takeover of the House and a blowout Democratic takeover of both the House and Senate.

Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says conditions are ripe for his party to grab more than 40 seats in Congress on Nov. 7.

If true, that’s an astounding reversal of fortune for the Democrats, who only need 15 seats to get a one-vote majority in the House (and until recently haven’t been sure they would even get that).

But with Republicans imploding and Iraq exlpoding, picking up more than 15 House seats doesn’t seem unrealistic. The problem, Democrats are saying, is money. There are suddenly more House races up for grabs than the party ever expected, and way more than it has resources to fund. There’s talk of national Democrats taking out a huge loan to cover a bigger bet on a House victory, and in the blogosphere, there are increasing demands that Democrats with safe seats part with some of their stored-up cash.

From MyDD:

I just did a quick tallying using Open Secrets, and calculated that the 45 Democrats who are not facing a Republican opponent this November have $26,288,418 in their campaign bank accounts as of September 30th, 2006. I put together a web page that details the cash on hand for each of the forty-five unopposed Democrats.

For the sake of comparison, the DCCC currently has $34,867,692 cash on hand, and the NRCC has $36,019,485 cash on hand. Further, Rahm Emmanuel apparently believes that Democrats are ahead, tied or competitive in 58 Republican held seats. The amount of money unopposed House Democrats are currently sitting on would equal $453,248.59 to each of those 58 districts.

There are also demands that Senators like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton funnel some of their enourmous cash reserves to the Democratic effort to take back both houses of Congress. (See here, here, here, and here.)

There’s even a “Hey, John!” site demanding that Kerry “let our money go.”

In 2004, over 171,154 Americans donated $328,479,245 and countless hours of time to help John Kerry get elected President. Now, two years later, Democrats have a real opportunity to regain a majority in both chambers of Congress.

John Kerry? He’s still hanging on to $8,352,685 of our money, while Democratic candidates in competitive districts are short on funds, and the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC are out of money.

Tell John Kerry to “let our money go” and help take back Congress by sending an email to

If the netroots can shake millions out of the campaign coffers of these safe Democrats, the achievement will dwarf anything the blogosphere could achieve on its own. As MyDD admits:

There is no way that the blogosphere can raise $26.3 million dollars in the next three weeks, but we might be able to persuade unopposed House incumbents to do just that.

Hence the coordinated pressure campaign. It’ll be interesting to see if it works.

Meanwhile, here’s another way that Democrats are employing technology to up their competitive advantage this election: After using the Lamont-Lieberman race as a test case, MoveOn has apparently figured out a way to successfully turn the web into one giant phone bank.

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Well, the DNC/DCCC/DSCC might be able to talk some of the unopposed democrats to give up some of their war chests, but it is unrealistic to expect to get all of it, it what money they get will come with strings attached.

Our own Jim McDermott, for example, is for all practical purposes unopposed. And he probably has surplus money in his campaign coffers that probably looks like an easy target, no? But he's still being hounded by the Republican lawsuits (you've written about it in The Stranger and slogged about it several times), and is constantly being bled for legal fees. So he might be persuaded to give up some money, but he'll need to keep some on hand. Likewise, I'm sure there are lots of other "unopposed" Dems around the country who have legitimate need to hold on to at least some of their war chests.

And while we might hope they'll give up the cash out of the spirit of party loyalty, that isn't how it works. It works like this: "I'll give you some of my excess campaign money if you support me to be the head of xyz commission/support my favorite pet legislation/support more pork for my district."

It would be great if some of these candidates give up some cash to help more needy Dems, but I'd hate to see them start off their newly won majority mired in all sorts of back-room deals.

Posted by SDA in SEA | October 19, 2006 12:40 PM

In reality there's way more cash in Blue hands than there is in Red hands. The burn rate by Reds resembles their "fiscal discipline" restraint - e.g. we're talking dot com burn on the Red side. And that's just to keep from being slaughtered.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 19, 2006 4:55 PM

What the person reading open secrets failed to read was the more important number for John Kerry, cash on hand. He has raised about $8 million in 2006, but he has already given that to candidates. He only has about $140,000 left.

Way to make a story out of nothing. I would be curious if they added up the other money the same way, by looking at money raised rather than cash on hand.

Posted by Read the whole thing | October 19, 2006 6:27 PM

The dems need a blowout vote in their favor to counter the diebold vote flipping and voter suppression of the republicans to have a chance of majorities in the house.

Posted by neo-realist | October 19, 2006 8:20 PM

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