DNC Nears Money Goal

The Democratic National Committee (search) is close to its goal of raising about $16 million to help the party's presidential nominee. Its Republican rival has enough in the bank to spend millions supporting President Bush.

The DNC raised $5.7 million and spent $2.8 million last month, starting February with $13.8 million in the bank, a campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission (search) shows.

The Republican National Committee (search) finished January with $39.4 million on hand after collecting $14.3 million and spending $8 million during the month, its report shows.

The two national committees can each use roughly $16 million on ads and other spending directly supporting their presidential nominees this year. The Federal Election Commission will decide over the next few months, based on cost-of-living increases, exactly how much the pair can spend in coordination with their nominees.

The DNC has been using contributions it receives through the mail to cover its operating costs so it can devote the money taken in at fund-raisers to its presidential fund. It held several events last year to raise money for its presidential spending, and it plans another fund-raiser in late March headlined by former Presidents Carter and Clinton to celebrate the opening of the renovated DNC headquarters in Washington.

Each major party has been trying to expand its base of small-dollar donors to help make up for the loss of corporate, union and unlimited contributions known as soft money. The big checks were banned by law after the November 2002 election.

Both parties used to raise millions of dollars in soft money, but the DNC relied more heavily on it than the RNC did. The Republicans have long collected millions more than the Democratic Party in the limited individual donations the parties can still raise.

The parties' congressional fund-raising committees also disclosed January totals. Among those:

— The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $2.8 million and spent $1.7 million. It began February with $9.7 million on hand.

— The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee collected $1.3 million and spent $1.2 million, with $2.6 million in bills to pay and $2.6 million in the bank.

— The two House committees, both pouring money into a special election in Kentucky, spent more overall than they raised last month. Democrat Ben Chandler won the Kentucky race.

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee started February with $9.6 million in the bank. It raised $4.6 million and spent $5.8 million last month.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began this month with $6.5 million on hand. It raised $1.4 million and spent $3.4 million in January.