DNC’s fundraising woes continue with worst October in 15 years

The Democratic National Committee’s fundraising woes continued last month, when the party posted its lowest total for the month of October in at least 15 years.

The DNC raised $3.9 million in October — far short of the $9.2 million raised during the month by the Republican National Committee.

The RNC has now raised $113.2 million over the 2017 calendar year and has $42.5 million in the bank and no debt. The DNC, meanwhile, has raised $55 million this year. It has $5 million cash on hand and owes $3.2 million in debts.

It was the worst October for Democrats dating back to 2003 — the first year the national parties were required to file monthly finance reports. The low totals reflect the difficulty the DNC has had raising money since former President Barack Obama left office.

The October fundraising figure doesn’t take into account a separate, newly launched joint fundraising agreement with its state parties called the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund. Democrats raised $1.5 million through that agreement in October, its first month. The party plans to increasingly direct its donors to that fund, and will use it to cover monthly payments to state Democratic parties.

The Democratic fundraising struggles came in the month before the party notched its biggest victories since President Donald Trump took office — easily winning the governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey and picking up state legislative seats around the country.

Other Democratic organizations, including the party’s House and Senate campaign arms, have broken their own fundraising records — particularly with online, small-dollar donors.

But the DNC under new chairman Tom Perez has remained a source of friction, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ backers — including Our Revolution, the political organization that grew out of his 2016 campaign — remaining critical of its role.

The party’s wounds were reopened when Donna Brazile, who took over as the interim chairwoman of the DNC from the party’s 2016 convention through Perez’s election in February, wrote a book detailing what she saw as the party having tipped the scales in Hillary Clinton’s favor in 2016.

Early this month the DNC fired its finance director, Emily Mellencamp Smith, whose hiring was just announced in June as part of new chairman Perez’s efforts to rebuild the party. DNC press secretary Michael Tyler said Mellencamp Smith was “going back to consulting … including staying on in a consulting role for the DNC.”

A “unity commission” made of members appointed by Sanders, Clinton and Perez has met throughout 2017 and is close to making a series of recommendations intended to resolve the issues that proved controversial during the 2016 campaign, including the party’s use of superdelegates in its presidential nominating process.

Outgoing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to host the DNC’s major end-of-year fundraiser — making him one of the party’s only 2020 presidential prospects to step in to aid the committee.

This story has been updated to add additional description of Democrats’ fundraising efforts.