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September 22, 2008

Senators Pony Up To Own Parties

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee each raked in millions in August, largely with the help of their own members. Still, Democrats remain far more generous with their own committee than Republican senators have been.

As Josh reported Friday, the NRSC raised $5.1 million in August, outpacing the DSCC's $4.4 million during the same month. Democrats spent much more heavily than Republicans, dishing out $13.7 million to Republicans' $3 million on advertisements in states with hot Senate races this year. The DSCC still has an almost $7 million cash on hand advantage over their GOP rivals.

During the month after NRSC chairman John Ensign made his call for donations from his colleagues in order to keep pace with Democratic independent expenditures, just four senators chipped in. Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, facing an easy re-election this year, gave $250,000. Indiana Senator Richard Lugar gave $200,000 and Missouri's Kit Bond handed over $150,000; neither faces voters this year.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell donated $50,000 on his own as he squares off with wealthy businessman Bruce Lunsford. Ensign also helped his own cause, contributing $300,000 from his campaign account.

On the Democratic side, Arkansas freshman Mark Pryor gave $300,000 of his own, and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye chipped in $100,000 for the team. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Bill Nelson of Florida each contributed small amounts from their respective leadership PACs.

In general, Democrats have given far more to the DSCC than Republicans have to the NRSC. A review of FEC reports shows only eight Republicans have given more than $100,000 to their committee, while twenty Democrats have surpassed the six-figure mark.

Republicans have been not-so-quietly frustrated with their own members' lack of generosity. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, most notably, has contributed just $15,000 from his leadership PAC, though he sits atop a warchest of more than $13 million. Shelby won re-election in 2004 by a two-to-one margin having spent just $1.9 million.