Dean Group Raises $425K For Senate Dems; $100K For Feingold

A progressive political action committee associated with former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says its members have raised $425,000 to help Democrats running for Senate this year. It also says it raised $100,000 in 24 hours to help Sen. Russ Feingold’s troubled re-election bid.

Democracy for America (DFA) has endorsed a number of Democratic incumbents, and challengers, in the run-up to the November midterm elections, in which Democrats must defend their majorities in both the House and Senate against a determined conservative “tea party”-driven movement.

Republicans need to win 10 seats in November to take the Senate away from Democrats. In its own separate fundraising appeals, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee acknowledges 15 races are close, within 5 points in current polling.

DFA was built from Dean’s campaign operation when he unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination for president in 2004.

“It’s time to get some new blood in the Senate and shake things up. That’s why we are supporting fighters,” says Dean’s brother, Jim Dean, chair of DFA. “DFA endorsed candidates will take back the Senate for the American people.”

Incumbents endorsed by DFA are Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Feingold, of Wisconsin.

Fighting for a fourth term, Boxer is in a neck-and-neck race against Republican Carly Fiorina, the self-funding former head of computer giant HP.

Also running for a fourth term, Feingold faces another wealthy opponent in Republican nominee Ron Johnson. Rob Taylor also is running as the Constitution Party candidate.

Polls reportedly give Johnson the lead over Feingold, who is best known for the bipartisan campaign finance reform legislation he authored with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Feingold also opposed the controversial anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act on its first vote, and opposes President Obama’s policy for involvement in Afghanistan.

However, Feingold is more hawkish on federal budget deficit issues, having authored his Control Spending Now Act, legislation he says is made up of more than 40 proposals to reduce the deficit by more than one half trillion dollars.

DFA laments slow, or no, action by the Senate on such key progressive priorities as tax cuts for the middle class, campaign spending rules, the public option in healthcare reform, climate change legislation, and a lifting of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which bans gay Americans serving openly in the military.

“It’s time to get the Senate working for the people again,” said Charles Chamberlain, political director for DFA. “DFA members were motivated in the primaries to get the best candidates possible and they have already donated $425,000 to get fighters in the Senate in 2010.”

Democratic Senate challengers that DFA supports are: Jack Conway in Kentucky, Roxanne Conlin in Iowa, Rep. Paul Hodes of New Hampshire, Elaine Marshall in North Carolina, Scott McAdams in Alaska, and Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania. DFA supported Sestak earlier this year in his successful challenge of party-switching Republican-turned-Democrat, Sen. Arlen Specter.

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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