Under Steele, RNC expecting big fundraising trouble

For a long time, the Republican Party has taken in more money than its Democratic counterpart. That's probably about to change.

Published March 17, 2009 7:45PM (EDT)

For some time now, even in the Howard Dean days, the Republican National Committee has consistently brought in significantly more money than its Democratic counterpart. The RNC's advantage has helped congressional candidates in lean times, and even brought John McCain at least a little closer to matching Barack Obama's enormous campaign coffers last fall. But the glory days might be at an end for the GOP.

We'll find out for sure on Friday, but the biggest problem with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's short tenure may not be his various embarrassing public statements so much as a distinct lack of fundraising prowess. The Hill's Reid Wilson, noting former Chairman Mike Duncan brought in $13.1 million in his last month on the job, reports that "GOP observers say they expect Steele’s RNC to report between $3.5 million and $4 million raised in February when reports are filed Friday."

Now, it's possible that various GOP'ers could just be working to keep expectations low in hopes that Steele will end up exceeding them. But there are good reasons to think there will indeed be a sharp drop-off in money coming in to the RNC. Steele laid off quite a few employees when he took over, including some in the finance department, and the party lacks a finance director as well.

Wilson quotes "one prominent Republican fundraiser" as saying, deadpan, “They don’t have a finance director. That may have an impact on fundraising. The lack of having a finance division, that might have an impact on fundraising.”

Update: A little bit of clarification I'd missed earlier in Wilson's story -- that $13.1 million number includes about $7 million transferred from John McCain's presidential campaign, so Duncan's fundraising total from January is more like $6 million.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Michael Steele War Room