Liberal super PACs have far outspent their conservative counterparts in national and state elections this year, but the GOP is poised to catch up.
Pro-Democratic super PACs have doled out $10.8 million on federal races this year, twice as much as Republican money groups, reports USA Today
, citing the Center for Responsive Politics
, which tracks political money.
"For better or worse, people are getting comfortable with the new campaign-finance landscape," Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the center, told the newspaper.
On the Democratic side, billionaires and unions supporting liberal causes are generating much of the activity.
California environmentalist and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer spent $8 million in the Virginia gubernatorial election, determined to defeat Republican Ken Cuccinelli for his conservative views on the environment, reports Politico
Steyer's political committee, NextGen Climate Action, paid for TV and web ads, campaign mailing, and a grassroots outreach program in support of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, making climate change a key issue, according to the publication.
But Cuccinelli narrowed what was expected to be an even bigger lead by tying his opponent to Obamacare
, a theme that has reinvigorated Republican donors.
"Enthusiasm is growing in leaps and bounds as it becomes clear what a turkey Obamacare is," veteran GOP fundraiser Fred Malek told USA Today.
Republican super PACs also are starting to put their money behind individual congressional candidates. Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, for example, reportedly has spent $1 million attacking GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Democratic rival Alison Lundergan Grimes.
As more Republican incumbents face primary challenges, super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts, could play a pivotal role in several races.
"The need to create super PACs to support individual members has moved from a luxury to a necessity," Charles Spies, who helped create a super PAC that spent more than $145 million in support of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, told USA Today.
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