Dems reach new fundraising deal, with boost for GOP states

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ATLANTA (AP) — National and state Democratic officials have reached a joint fundraising deal to increase aid to state parties, with an extra boost for those in Republican-dominated states.

The agreement, which follows weeks of negotiations, is intended to allow the party’s wealthiest backers to contribute up to $875,000 annually to a combined fund that, under federal campaign finance rules, can be distributed to party accounts around the country.

Top party leaders confirmed the arrangement to The Associated Press ahead of a planned call later Wednesday between the Democratic National Committee and state party leaders.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison touted the deal as a “50-state strategy” that honors President Joe Biden’s promise not to abandon down-ballot Democrats heading into the 2022 midterms.

“It’s not just about battlegrounds states but about all states,” Harrison said in an interview. “We know what history says, that the party in power loses seats. But we also know you can make your own history.”

The deal, which Harrison said has the backing of the White House, is intended to run through 2024, meaning the next Democratic presidential nominee won't have to negotiate a new arrangement. Harrison said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are expected to help Democrats raise money under the model, as they did in 2020, after the Biden campaign established a joint fundraising plan when he became the presumptive nominee.

Under the agreement, state parties will get $12,500 each month from the DNC, up from the $10,000 they received during much of President Donald Trump’s tenure. State parties will have no restrictions on the money, though most are expected to hire more staff.

The deal also extends a data sharing arrangement among the DNC, state parties and other national committees, including Democrats’ Senate and House campaign committees. All participants get access to DNC’s main voter file and then share whatever new information each gleans from individual voters during an election cycle. Democrats fought for years over such a model, establishing an exchange only after Trump’s 2016 victory showed Republicans had used their own version to lap Democrats in using data to reach voters.

A new additional program will boost payments to Democratic parties in GOP-dominated states, defined as meeting two of three measures: a supermajority Republican legislature, no Democrat in the governor’s office or U.S. Senate, or a congressional delegation that is at least three-fourths Republican. Democrats said 18 states qualify. They'll get an additional $2,500 in monthly support, plus be eligible for grants to fund specific programs, such as voter registration.

“We have to invest in these red states if we want them to become purple states,” said Ken Martin, a Minnesotan who leads Democrats' national organization of state chairs. Even in states Democrats can't flip completely, Martin said, they can win more legislative and congressional seats.

The stipends pale in comparison to figures now being thrown around in U.S. politics. As a 2020 Senate candidate himself, Harrison raised nearly $60 million in one quarter against Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who ended up winning reelection. The DNC raised $48 million in the first three months of 2021, with the Republican National Committee not far behind at $44 million.

But Democratic officials said the point is to provide a basic, permanent infrastructure that allows credible candidates, like Harrison, to capitalize.

“Campaign finance has evolved so that many candidates, even in non-presidential years, have significant resources” on their own, said DNC executive director Sam Cornale. “The finite commodity in politics is really time. It takes time to identify and (register) voters ... to recruit volunteers. This is our guaranteed commitment to state parties and the grassroots to help them do that work now.”