Facing a troubling a potentially troubling political environment heading into the 2010 elections, the Democratic National Committee intends to spend at least $50 million to bolster the chances of Democrats running nationwide, according to a top DNC official.
To keep those plans on track, the DNC is hoping to raise $465,000 by the end of Wednesday, Ann Marie Habershaw, DNC chief operating officer, says in an email. Wednesday is the deadline for second-quarter fundraising totals.
Democrats are “putting together one of the most ambitious midterm campaign programs in American political history” this year, Habershaw says in an email to supporters.
Her email doesn’t address the larger political atmosphere, but after two big elections in 2006 and 2008, Democrats this year are facing a more-uncertain terrain after more than a year of Republican attacks and middling poll numbers for President Obama.
Democrats won back control of Congress in 2006, and extended their majorities in 2008 while sending Obama to the White House, too.
But this year, for the first time, Democrats will face the political potential of the so-called “tea party” movement, which has energized conservative candidates nationwide, including Senate hopefuls Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada.
Control of both houses of Congress will be at stake this year, which will determine whether Democrats continue to hold the House and Senate as they have since 2007, or whether Republicans take over, as they hope to do in a repeat of the 1994 midterm sweep.
“We’ve never had this much staff on the ground in a non-presidential election, and we’re doing everything we can to reach out to the 15 million folks who voted for the first time in 2008 to get them back to the polls this fall,” Habershaw says. “Such an ambitious program isn’t cheap — we know our Vote 2010 plan will cost at least $50 million. From office space to salaries for field organizers to ads and mail pieces, the expenses all add up. And, right now, as I’m looking at our budgets and projections, we don’t yet have enough.”
Although the DNC says it plans to spend heavily this year, Democrats easily could be outmatched financially due to the January Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. That decision swept away decades of limits on corporate spending to influence elections so that corporations and other special interests can spend virtually unlimited amounts to influence the 2010 election, and subsequent elections.
Habershaw touts major Democratic accomplishments: enactment of the 2009 $787 billion economic stimulus program, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as the landmark healthcare law passed this year.
Democrats have achieved their legislative gains in the face of near-unified GOP obstruction and regular, historically high use of the filibuster in the Senate to attempt to block anything more than minor legislation.
“And now we need to fight for the President’s allies up and down the ballot, to protect those gains and keep moving America forward,” Habershaw says.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.