Dems Enraged Over Dean's Spending

February 1, 2006
Washington, D.C.
Vol. 41, No. 3a

To: Our Readers

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State of the Democratic Party

Dean’s DNC: The revelation that DNC Chairman Howard Dean ran another deficit this month, bringing his committee’s cash total down from $7.3 million to $5.9 million, has enraged Democrats, many of whom had doubts about his ability to do the job ever since he was elected in early 2005.

1) Democratic leaders, including Majority Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.), DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), and DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have gone public with concerns that Dean is going through the cash too quickly, despite the DNC’s lack of involvement with any political campaigns at this point.

2) The "burn rate," they worry, is far too high, at just above 100 percent cumulatively. In December, Dean raised $3.1 million and spent $4.5 million. Since becoming chairman Dean has raised $56.1 million and spent $56.2 million — the difference comes from cash left over after the 2004 election.

3) By contrast, the RNC reported $10.1 million raised in December and $8.2 million spent, leaving $33.9 million in cash on hand. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman has raised $105.3 million and spent $86 million. The RNC payroll is slimmer than that of the DNC by $0.5 million per month, but that goes only a small way toward explaining the huge difference.

4) Some argue that congressional critics of the DNC are irrelevant. The money spent by the DNC went to exactly what Dean said he would do with it — infrastructure and staff in the states, including red states. That is what Dean campaigned on when he won election as chairman. Dean is not hoarding the money in Washington for a nationally organized and directed air campaign — instead he is counting on a grassroots effort that he feels will be backed by staffers sent to places like Missouri and North Dakota.

5) Regardless of the merits of Dean’s strategy, he will almost certainly feel vindicated — as will his left-wing fan-club — after the expected Democratic gains of the coming November, even if they are minimal and far less than they should be. If he merely gains seats in both houses of Congress — a strong likelihood — he will be the first DNC chairman to have such an unqualified election victory since 1990. He would continue to be a hero to his base, and he could potentially continue to help Democrats underperform.

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