WASHINGTON – The Democratic National Committee (DNC), under the new leadership of Chairman Tom Perez and Deputy Chair Keith Ellison, is struggling to match the fundraising of the Republican National Committee (RNC).
While Perez and Ellison, who took over the DNC in late February, are struggling to rally the support of donors, the RNC leadership continues to hold a massive fundraising lead. In the first seven months of 2017, the RNC raised $86.5 million. The DNC failed to raise even half that, reporting $42 million in fundraising.
The latest fundraising numbers come as the DNC expands its fundraising staff ten-fold. In an interview with the Star Tribune, William Hailer, a former Ellison aide in Minnesota, said the DNC was “in shambles” when the new leadership came in. Hailer said the fundraising staff was at an all-time low, with only three people involved in the financial support of the committee. Now, according to the Star Tribune, Perez and Ellison have increased the fundraising staff to nearly 30 people.
Despite the increase in staff, the DNC has yet to be able to catch up to the RNC. In July, the DNC raised just $3.8 million, the worst month of fundraising for the committee since 2007. The RNC continues to hold strong, out-fundraising their rival by nearly three times with $10.2 million raised in the same month, according to a report by The Hill.
Despite being hopeful the increase in staff would help increase fundraising levels, Ellison told the Star Tribune fundraising is not the Democrats strength.
“The Democratic Party’s strength is its people,” Ellison told the Star Tribune. “The Republican Party’s strength is its money.”
The DNC currently holds about $3.4 million in debt, whereas the RNC is debt free. The RNC also has more cash on hand, growing the total to $47.1 million since the first of the year. When Perez and Ellison took over the DNC in February, the committee had about $10 million in cash on hand. Now, six months later, the DNC has about $7 million.
The bad news leaves some to question how well poised the Democrats will be for the 2018 elections. Democratic donors told The Hill it “shouldn’t even be close” and the disparity in fundraising is “deeply problematic.” However, some are optimistic and believe Perez and Ellison have time to turn things around before midterms.