Late GOP Runoff Dates Giving Democrats Time to Raise Money

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 11:26 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Democratic candidates are taking advantage of Republicans' late runoff dates in this election cycle's primary process to raise some extra cash heading into the November general election, reports NPR.

For example, on Tuesday night, Georgia Republicans picked their Senate nominee in a late runoff, choosing corporate CEO David Perdue to square off against Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn in November.

Nunn has gained strength as the party tries to preserve its Senate majority, and also took advantage of the Republicans' late runoff date, said Justin Barasky, press secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington.

The extra time puts the GOP "in a pretty bad financial position," and meanwhile, "Michelle Nunn has built her organization and her cash-on-hand advantage to a really strong place."

Nunn had raised $6.6 million and had $3.7 million in cash on hand as of April 30. Prominent Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, are among her contributors, along with billionaires Warren Buffett and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News’ parent company, Bloomberg LP.

With 33 Senate seats coming up for election in November, Democrats in Georgia and Kentucky have a fighting chance of picking up a Republican seat. In Kentucky, former Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Grimes' fundraising is catching up with McConnell's, said her campaign manager, Jonathan Hurst. When the race started, McConnell had $10 million in his campaign, but  while he was waging a costly primary race, Grimes was raising money in her state and around the nation.

Grimes said her campaign has 68 cents to every dollar that McConnell has. However, super PACS are spending more money on the incumbent senator than on her challenge.

"We don't suspect that Alison Lundergan Grimes is going to suffer from any lack of resources," says Josh Holmes, adviser to McConnell's campaign.

Barasky said candidates with money in their coffers, rather than those depending on spending by outside groups, are worth more financially as candidates pay less for TV airtime.

"So the reality is that $6.2 million of candidate cash" — the amount Grimes reported as cash on hand — "is actually closer to $10 or $12 million of outside-group cash," he told NPR.

National Republican Senatorial Committee consultant Brian Walsh, said that by fall, Democrats are going to be feeling a bit cash-poor.

"The national Democratic Party's going to have some tough decisions to make," Walsh said. "I frankly would be a little surprised if, come September or October, they're spending serious money in either Kentucky or Georgia."

In addition, one of the runoff elections is extremely late. In Louisiana, Election Day is a primary with a runoff in December. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and the leading Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy, each have about $6 million in cash on hand.

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