Under the Dome

Dome: Senate GOP out-raises Democrats by 12-to-1

August 10, 2013 

Senate Republicans out-raised their Democratic counterparts by more than 12 to 1 during the first half of 2013, and GOP senators had four times more cash remaining in their campaign accounts than Democrats as of June 30, an analysis by the Insider shows.

Here’s the Insider’s breakdown, as reported by Patrick Gannon:

• Senate Republicans on average raised nearly $38,000 during the first six months of 2013, a figure boosted by the $475,000 raised by their leader, Sen. Phil Berger of Eden.

• Democrats raised $5,800 on average, with Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Asheville leading that caucus by collecting about $26,600 in donations. He was followed by Sen. Josh Stein of Wake County, whose campaign took in $23,000

• Thirty-two Republicans (fundraising totals for Sen. Dan Soucek weren’t available) raised more than $1.2 million. The 17 Senate Democrats brought in $99,000 from Jan. 1 through June 30, according to campaign finance data filed with the State Board of Elections.

The numbers show the sitting GOP lawmakers with a sizable cash advantage early in the election cycle, which isn’t unusual as donors typically gravitate to the political party that controls legislation. Republican senators had nearly $1.5 million remaining in their accounts at the end of the reporting period on June 30. Democrats had about $354,000 in their coffers.

The Democratic spin: “Phil Berger and his caucus are swimming in special interest cash after a session of catering to wealthy special interests instead of focusing on jobs and the economy for North Carolina’s families,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party. The Republican spin: “I think it says that North Carolinians are supporting leaders who deliver on their campaign promises,” said Ray Martin, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans. “I think 2014 is shaping up to be a good cycle.”

Other top GOP fundraisers: Sens. Neal Hunt of Wake County ($155,000), Wesley Meredith of Cumberland County ($132,000) and Brent Jackson of Sampson County ($51,000). Hunt’s money, however, came largely through a $128,000 personal loan to his campaign on June 27. Meredith, a second-term senator from Fayetteville, brought in more than $115,000 from individuals, including Realtors and developers, attorneys, doctors, restaurant owners, retirees and homemakers. Jackson, a farmer who ushered bills to help farmers through the Legislature in 2013, received much of his financial support this year from the donors in the agriculture industry, his finance report shows.

Tillis and the health care law

Republican Thom Tillis is emphasizing his opposition to the federal health care law in his campaign for the U.S. Senate but at the same time he’s avoiding answering some questions on the issue. A Democratic Party operative recently asked the Republican House speaker whether he agrees with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others who suggested shutting down government to defund the federal health care law.

While walking to a recent D.C. fundraiser, Tillis didn’t offer a direct answer – even though if elected he may face similar circumstance. “It’s not my decision to make, but anything we could do to slow down or eliminate Obamacare would be good for the nation,” he said in a video posted online.

Does Tillis agree with North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, that a shutdown is the “dumbest idea” ever? Again no answer. “I’m going to leave that to the duly elected senators,” he said. Expect both questions to return soon.

Staff writers John Frank. Patrick Gannon writes for the NCInsider.com, a government news service owned by The N&O.

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