The Other National Fight
by Josh Orton, Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 02:08:47 PM EDT
Looking to widen the Dem margins in the House and Senate:
Early spending on congressional races shows Senate Democrats reaching for 60 seats and House Democrats making good on their promise to stay on offense.
With less than seven weeks until Election Day, the vast majority of independent expenditures from House and Senate Democrats have gone to offense, according to an analysis by The Hill.
At the end of July, the Democrats had a 4-to-1 advantage in cash in the House and an $18 million edge in the Senate.
The biggest recipients of national money so far are Oregon, where the DSCC has spent $3.7 million to help financially overmatched state House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D), and Illinois's 11th district, an expensive open-seat battleground in the Chicago area where the DCCC has spent nearly half a million dollars already. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) is not running for reelection.
The DCCC has also spent heavily on two pairs of open seats in Ohio and New Jersey, as well as two Southwestern swing districts -- retiring Rep. Rick Renzi's (R-Ariz.) and outgoing Rep. Heather Wilson's (R-N.M.).
The financial advantage of the Dem committees is fortunate, since Obama remains busy raising his own money after opting out of public financing:
Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a personal appeal to Barack Obama: Help me grow the Democrats' Senate majority by sharing some of the $77 million you've got in the bank.
Obama's campaign said no.
Although Democratic insiders say a better deal could still come, the Obama campaign so far has agreed only to let Senate Democrats use Obama's name -- as well as those of his wife and running mate -- in mail and online fundraising pitches. The campaign has planned no joint fundraising events with House or Senate Democrats, and insiders say none is likely to be held before Election Day.
In rejecting a direct request from his Senate leader, Obama has put a fine point on the financial pressures he's feeling as the presidential race turns toward the fall.
Obama accepted the burden of constant fundraising when he opted out of the public system - and that means every minute he might spend raising for our committees is time he's not raising for himself - and that's time he's not in front of voters. It's a complex calculation, and one that could pay off. But for now, our Congressional committees still enjoy a healthy advantage over their Republican counterparts.