Parties Continue Record-Breaking Fund-raising Year

The national Republican and Democratic parties reported raising records amounts — more than $115 million total — in the first six months of this year.

The Republican National Committee raised $70.6 million, thanks to a big assist from President Bush, while its Democratic counterpart raised $45 million, according to finance reports released Wednesday night.

Both parties said those were record amounts for the first half of a non-presidential election year.

The RNC's money included $42.9 million from direct mail or phone solicitations and $27.7 million from major donors. Two-thirds of the money the RNC raised was in so-called hard money — limited contributions from individuals and political action committees — that it can spend however it chooses. The rest is in "soft money" — unlimited, often six-figure donations from unions, companies and others — that it can spend only on party-building activities such as get-out-the-vote drives.

The RNC got pledges of more than $30 million at a May event headlined by the president, claiming the all-time single night fund-raising record. RNC officials said they weren't sure how much of that already has been collected. The RNC has raised more than $152 million so far this election cycle, which includes 2001.

On Wednesday night, Vice President Dick Cheney was attending an RNC dinner for its biggest donors — those who give $100,000 or more to join its "Team 100."

The Democratic National Committee reported it has raised $45 million and will have collected approximately $14 million from direct-mail fund raising for the first six months of 2002, a record in this category for a non-presidential election year.

A new campaign finance law set to take effect after this fall's election will prohibit national party committees from accepting soft money. The new law is leading both parties to aggressively work for donations from individuals, especially using direct mail and the Internet.

The DNC reported it had $20 million in the bank and has $5 million in debt. The RNC did not release the amount of cash it has on hand, although that information will be made public later this month.

Two national Democratic committees raising money for this fall's battle for congressional control also reported they are posting record totals.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has raised $71.8 million so far this election cycle, with $17 million of that collected last month, the committee announced. In comparison, the committee had taken in $49 million by this point for the 2000 election, a presidential election year.

The Senate fund-raising committee reported $28.9 million in the bank, nearly half of that in hard money.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises money for House races, has collected $61 million for the November election, it said. By comparison, the committee had collected $60 million at this point during the 2000 election.

The $61 million collected for this year's election includes $15 million over the past three months, nearly $6 million of it in hard money. The committee has $25 million in the bank.