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Republicans Outpace Dems In Fundraising As Control Of Key Legislatures Hangs In Balance

Republican campaign committees tasked with electing conservatives to state legislatures hold a significant fundraising advantage over their Democratic counterpart.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) and the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) have both announced that they are targeting state legislature races in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and New Hampshire, according to statements released by the competing groups. The RSLC, however, goes into this looming battle with a considerable fundraising advantage, with it and its strategic partner, the State Government Leadership Foundation, bringing in $47 million this election cycle while the DLCC took in about $28 million during the same period.

“This record-breaking fundraising quarter is a testament to the strength of the RSLC heading into a pivotal 2024 election year and speaks to the desires of Americans nationwide who want Republican-led state leadership to serve as the last line of defense against the disastrous policies coming out of Washington,” RSLC president Dee Duncan said.

Duncan, however, cautioned that despite the RSLC’s solid fundraising, Democrats appear poised to spend big to protect their existing majorities in contentious state legislatures and even to flip legislatures held by Republicans.

“It’s really three groups against one,” an RSLC spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “You have the DLCC that’s committed to spend $60 million, you have Forward Majority that has committed to spend $25 million and then you have the States Project which has committed to spend $70 million,” they continued.

The spokesperson emphasized that their fundraising numbers should be viewed with caution given the magnitude of outside support Democrats have historically received.

“The DLCC is really not capable on its own, they need other outside groups to come in and spend that money to outraise and outspend Republicans,” he went on. “Meanwhile, for us, we’re on track to have what we need to beat back the national liberal money machine,” the RSLC spokesperson said.

The DLCC has set a target budget of $60 million in spending for its 2024 cycle which it plans to use to “help pay for direct voter contact and provide support to help Democrats get their voters to the polls” and other operations to help Democrats win, according to a press release.

“We saw it in 2022 when the DLCC, the States Project, and Forward Majority combined to spend over $120 million to our $38 million investment, and again in 2023 in Virginia when our entire cycle spend was matched and surpassed during the final weeks of the election,” Duncan continued. “With the DLCC committed to spend $60 million this cycle, Forward Majority committed to spending $25 million, and even more money pouring in from the States Project, this will be the largest uphill battle the RSLC has faced to date, but we are battle tested and ready for the fight.”

Republicans control 58 of the 99 state legislative bodies across the country, including 56 of the 93 on the ballot this year, according to the RSLC.

While the RSLC stresses the importance of state-level races, it is diverting a considerable amount of its resources to helping former President Donald Trump win the presidential election in November, with the organization’s federal PAC spending over $1 million in recent months on operations either supporting Trump or opposing President Joe Biden, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

Recent efforts undertaken by the RSLC at the state level have produced disappointing results despite considerable funding, with Democrats regaining control of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly in November 2023 after the RSLC’s PAC injected millions into the state, FEC records show.

State legislatures, though receiving relatively sparse coverage in national media, address policies, like the National Popular Vote Compact, that could have implications for Americans in all states. The National Popular Vote Compact is an agreement among states to award all of their electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote in the presidential election, with the agreement only kicking in once enough states have joined to clear the 270 electoral vote threshold required to select a president.

So far, the compact has attracted 17 states and D.C., amounting to 209 electoral votes. Michigan, a target of the DLCC and the RSLC, controls 15 electoral votes and is currently mulling joining the popular vote compact in its legislature. Louisiana’s legislature, on the other hand, passed a law in May that would reclassify abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances, according to the Associated Press.

Michigan’s State Senate has a 20 to 18 Democratic majority and the Michigan House has a 56 to 54 Democratic majority, according to Ballotpedia. Chambers in Arizona, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Pennsylvania all have similarly slim majorities, paving the way for flips.

After the Supreme Court effectively kicked abortion back to the states through its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, legislatures have become a hotbed for abortion legislation.

Arizona’s state legislature, for instance, recently repealed a law first enacted in 1864 that would have banned abortion in nearly all circumstances after it was triggered by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, The Center Square reported. “2024 is the year of the states, and this wave of support is critical to build Democratic power in the states and move our country forward,” DLCC President Heather Williams said. “For a fraction of the billions of dollars being spent at the top of the ticket, we can fundamentally shift the balance of power in this country by building and expanding Democratic majorities at the state level.”

The DLCC did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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