The Democratic National Committee under Howard Dean is losing the fundraising race against Republicans by nearly 2 to 1, a slow start that is stirring concern among strategists who worry that a cash shortage could hinder the party's competitiveness in next year's midterm elections [...]
Now, the latest financial numbers are prompting new doubts. From January through September, the Republican National Committee raised $81.5 million, with $34 million remaining in the bank. The Democratic National Committee, by contrast, showed $42 million raised and $6.8 million in the bank.
Sounds horrible! Except we must put it all in its proper context:
In the previous election cycle, the DNC had raised $31 million, compared with the RNC's $80 million, at this point in 2003 [...]
So Dean has cut the RNC's traditional 3-1 advantage (or more) in fundraising to a 2-1 advantage and raised $11 million more than McAuliffe raised in 2003. Not to mention that Dean's numbers come the year after a presidential election -- the worst political fundraising time possible, while McAuliffe's came during the presidential cycle. Meanwhile, the RNC has remained static.
Dean has also been fundraising in the states, FOR the states. Past DNC chairmen would sweep into Lousiana or California, raise some money, and then ship the cash off the DC. Dean has garnered raves in the states for funneling that money to the local parties. Those are dollars not tallied in the RNC versus DNC comparisons. Mehlman isn't out tirelessly raising money for state parties.
The more worrying figure is the Cash on Hand numbers, with the RNC sitting at $34 million and the DNC at $6.8 million. While it would be nice to see more transparency in the DNC's spending (they'll need it if they expect to raise signficant money online), fact is that Dean has invested seriously in building up local parties. He's put three DNC staffers in 38 states, and will be staffed out in all 50 states by the end of the year. He's fundraised for the state parties, rather than pilfering all that cash.
So what's the source of all the kvetching? The big donors are upset that Dean hasn't kissed enough ass.
As some see it, Dean's larger problem is with the care and feeding of wealthy contributors, people capable of giving the maximum $26,700 allowed annually under federal law. Bob Farmer, a past DNC finance chairman, said that "where the chairman can make an impact is with the big donors and the big fundraisers."
Dean does not enjoy long relationships with these people and remains uncomfortable asking for a significant contribution after just meeting a donor, said party operatives familiar with his style. One high-dollar donor in the Washington area said the outreach by Dean has been woeful: "The only explanation I can fathom for the virtual total lack of quality communications is they are still in the process of figuring things out in terms of who their major donor list is."
What, did this high-dollar donor lose the address to the DNC? What a whiny sack of shit.
High dollar donors who care about the party and the nation should be able to give without getting wined and dined by Dean. Long term, that is where the Democratic Party needs to go -- funded by small dollar donors and supplemented by big donors who have their priorities in the right place.
Oh, and let's talk about this gem of a quote:
Several Washington Democrats not favorably inclined toward Dean said the party was willing to gamble on his "potential for hoof in mouth disease" -- in the words of one lobbyist -- because of the unexpected fundraising prowess he showed in the 2004 race.
The "party was willing to gamble"? What asshole Democrats made that asinine quote? "Washington Democrats" didn't have a choice. Dean was selected by outside-the-beltway Democrats, despite proclamation from establishment DC-based Dems that Dean would be the death of the party. If it was up to the DC crowd, Dean wouldn't have gotten within 500 miles of DC.
Again, Dean has already surpassed McAuliffe's vaunted presidenital-cycle numbers. Period. And they'll only get better. Dean has started rebuilding the state parties -- something DC Democrats could care less about (considering they never bothered trying to do it before).
And as to establishment and DLC fears that Dean would be an electoral disaster for Dems? Two words:
2005 elections. 'Nuff said.