Thursday, January 15, 2004



WASHINGTON - Flush with cash, the Republican National Committee (news - web sites) is ready to spend in elections from statehouses to the White House this year while its Democratic rival is still at its starting point, trying to raise enough to help its presidential nominee compete.

The parties' bankrolls as 2004 began offer a striking look at the effect sweeping new campaign finance restrictions are having on them. The RNC had three times more cash on hand than the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites): $33.1 million, compared with about $10 million for the DNC.

In the presidential race, each committee can spend roughly $16 million in coordination with its nominee, along with the candidates' own fund raising. While the RNC has all it needs for that and more, the DNC has $10 million raised and about $6 million to go.

McAuliffe expects it will be late March before the DNC accumulates that funding. That means the general-election season will be getting under way just as the DNC starts raising money for TV ads, get-out-the-vote drives and other non-presidential-specific spending.