Facing tough election, House Democrats contribute to build firewall


House Democrats have contributed nearly $40 million to the congressional campaign committee tasked with protecting the party’s majority in the midterm elections in November, according to data obtained from TransparencyData.com.

The contributions from 166 members of the 253 members of the House Democratic Caucus account for 37 percent of the contributions made to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). These contributions could help to build a well-funded defensive line against the insurgent Republicans.

The DCCC has raised over $100 million this election cycle and has nearly $40 million in cash on hand, but has only spent $7 million so far on independent expenditures to protect their majority. According to a report by the Sunlight Foundation’s Reporting Group, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has spent nearly double that of the DCCC so far this cycle.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer contributed the most of any member of the caucus sending $2.35 million from his campaign committee and political action committee (PAC) to the DCCC. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sent the second most money to the DCCC with a total of $2.225 million. The third-ranking Democrat, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, is also the third-ranking giver to the DCCC with contributions totaling $2.2 million.

One hundred and eight Democrats have contributed over $100,000 to the DCCC. The biggest givers include the party leadership and major committee chairmen including Reps. Henry Waxman ($800,000), George Miller ($765,000) and Barney Frank ($600,000).

Perhaps an admission of the treacherous electoral climate ninety-seven members have not given any money to the DCCC. Nearly all Republican House members have contributed to the NRCC.

Many of these members are freshmen or sophomores elected in the 2006 and 2008 Democratic waves and are now facing a tough path to reelection. These Democrats are relying on the contributions to the DCCC by their fellow caucus members.

Some of the non-contributors will be facing little competition in November yet still have not sent campaign cash to help their party. In fact, twenty Democrats listed as not yet contributing to the DCCC are currently in races rated as “Solid Democratic” by the Cook Political Report.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Maxine Waters, Dan Lipinski, Carolyn McCarthy, Pete Stark, Luis Gutierrez and Corrine Brown are among those who are facing little to no opposition and have not contributed to their party’s campaign committee as of the last filing period. Some of these members are sitting on cash on hand piles of at least half-a-million dollars.

The contributions to the DCCC and the lack of contributions by some members produce a dynamic that highlights some of the Democratic Party’s internal ideological divisions. Many of the non-contributing members are Democrats from the moderate-to-conservative wing of the party. These are also the same members who are facing difficult reelections.

Those contributing to the party committee are more representative of the party’s liberal wing including many members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. While fifty-three of eighty-two Progressive Caucus members contributed to the committee, only seventeen out of fifty-four members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition did as well.

Over the past two years, Progressive Caucus members have voiced concerns about deals crafted to win the votes of Blue Dog Democrats and other moderate and conservative Democrats. The make-up of the caucus after November 2 could likely determine the party’s ideological temperament heading into the 2012 presidential cycle.

Feature photo credit: Dominic Alves