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Once again, the key in elections is ‘follow the money’

By CAPITOL HILL BLUE and PHILLIP ELLIOTT
January 31, 2014

Florida Republican Congressional candidate David Jolly.   (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, File)

Florida Republican Congressional candidate David Jolly.
(AP Photo/Steve Nesius, File)

As usual in politics, the focus is money and the ability to raise as much of it as one can.

With today’s deadline for filing end of the year financial reports for committees, candidates and others, a snapshot will begin to emerge showing how much is bring raised, who is raising it and who will have the edge in campaign finances going into the 2016 midterm elections.

But he reports are unlikely to provide a clear view of political advantages, however, with many of the outside groups operating under rules that don’t require financial reports until March or later.

Early reports, however, show heavy spending will be the norm.

The Republican Governors Association said it raised $50.3 million last year and has roughly the same amount in the bank. Its rival, the Democratic Governors Association, said it raised $28 million last year but did not release its bank balance.

There are 36 gubernatorial races in 2014. Of those, Republicans control the governor’s office in 22 states.

The Democrats’ committee to elect members to the House raised almost $76 million last year to fund its effort to retake the majority in that chamber. The GOP enjoys a 32-seat advantage, 232 Republicans to 200 Democrats. There are three open seats.

“Our record-breaking fundraising success comes down to one essential element: the insatiable hunger to replace this broken Republican Congress with leaders who have the right priorities and who will focus on solving problems,” said Rep. Steve Israel, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is expected to release its numbers by midnight on Friday.

Likewise, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee were also expected to release their year-end tallies Friday, as were the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee.

Thirty-five Senate seats are up this year and Democrats will be defending 21 of them. The current balance of power in the Senate is 45 Republicans, 53 Democrats and two independents who generally vote with the Democrats. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to wrest the Senate from Democrats’ control.

Individual contenders also face the deadline.

House members and those looking to become representatives have to file their fundraising reports.

Senators and Senate candidates must file paper reports to the Senate, but some choose to file electronically, too. There is usually a lag for paper filings before they make their way to the FEC.

But some of the biggest spenders won’t be included in Friday’s reports because, technically, they are not considered campaign operations.

Just look at how much money is being spent through Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

The group already has spent around $6 million to criticize Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and $1.7 million to criticize Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The two are among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats.

All told, the Koch-backed organization has spent more on television ads this year in seven states with competitive Senate races than all the outside Democratic groups combined have spent on Senate races in 10 hard-fought states. The group also has started a national advertising campaign on Fox News Channel and CNN.

Americans for Prosperity and many other outside groups do not face a Friday deadline, meaning it will be months before a true assessment of political spending is possible.

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Associated Press writer Philip Elliott was a major contributors to this story.  Follow him on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott

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Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press  All Rights Reserved.

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