Big Money from Republican Donors has Democrats Worried About Outcome of Midterms

Senator John Walsh of Montana, center, at the Senate Dirksen Office Building on Capitol Hill in February. (Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)
Senator John Walsh of Montana, center, at the Senate Dirksen Office Building on Capitol Hill in February. (Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Democrats in races that will help determine control of the Senate are rapidly burning through their campaign cash, whittling away their financial advantage over Republican opponents as they fend off attacks from conservative groups, according to figures released through Friday.

The spending on both sides underscores the critical role that outside conservative groups are playing as Republicans try to retake the Senate. In state after state, organizations like Americans for Prosperity, the nonprofit linked to the conservative billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch, have kept Democrats on the defensive with a barrage of negative ads while establishment-backed Republican candidates raise money and navigate their way through primaries.

In Alaska, the Democratic incumbent, Senator Mark Begich, spent about as much money as he raised during the first three months of the year, while Dan Sullivan, a Republican candidate and former state attorney general, increased his fund-raising and substantially narrowed Mr. Begich’s advantage in cash on hand.

In Montana, Senator John Walsh, a Democrat, spent almost three-quarters of the money he raised since January, ending with about $700,000. Representative Bruce Braley of Iowa, the likely Democratic nominee for Senate, spent over 60 percent of the cash he raised.

Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, spent only about a third of what she collected through the end of March. But last month, Ms. Landrieu reserved $2.7 million of advertising time, according to strategists tracking both parties’ television spending, which will cut deeply into the $7.5 million she reported at the beginning of April.

“The spending totals so far show that a lot of Democratic candidates find themselves on the run,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Democratic strategists say their candidates have faced a historic early onslaught of outside spending — about $33 million in all, most of it from Koch-linked groups — without squandering their coffers and while staying, for the most part, ahead of or even with their Republican rivals in the polls.

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SOURCE: NICHOLAS CONFESSORE 
The New York Times

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