Opportunities abound, but cash may be a problem for the GOP

While the Democrats are looking vulnerable in 2010, the GOP may not have the cash to take them on

Published January 29, 2010 11:20PM (EST)

The outlook for the GOP this November has been undeniably bright. Every other day, it seems, some new poll comes out showing that yet another incumbent Democrat may be in trouble  -- even in the bluest of states, conservatives have reason to hope.

But amidst all this optimism, Republicans may be forgetting about one thing their party will need if it's to reclaim a chunk of seats in the House and the Senate: Money. The GOP's various campaign committees are entering the election cycle with significantly less cash on hand than the Democrats.

This financial shortfall could put a real crimp in the party's designs on Congress; some vulnerable Democrats might escape a tough race as their opponents go underfunded, for instance. As Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a former RNC chief of staff as well as a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told the National Journal, “We clearly have more opportunities than cash right now.”

The problem starts off Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee. While the RNC had a whopping $22.8 million dollars in the bank when Steele took the helm nearly a year ago, it started off 2010 with just $8.4 million. Despite being an off-year, the RNC spent more money than it raised in every month since July. While this heavy spending has yielded the Republicans some political dividends (namely, gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia), it leaves them in a particularly bad place financially at the beginning of the 2010 election cycle.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee are also entering the 2010 election cycle with less money than their Democratic counterparts. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ended 2009 with $12.5 million on hand (offset by $1.2 million in debt) to the NRSC’s $8.3 million. But the real trouble lies with the NRCC, which began the year with a paltry $2.67 million. That's only enough money to fund a handful of congressional candidates. The DCCC, on the other hand, has $16.7 million in the bank.

According to the most recent data available, the Democratic National Committee has $13.1 million in the bank. While that isn’t an insurmountable advantage over the RNC, it’s pretty significant considering that the DNC was in much worse shape than the RNC a year ago, with $5.6 million cash on hand and $5 million in debt.

By Emily Holleman

Emily Holleman is the editor of Open Salon.

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