Senate GOP falls short on fundraising

WASHINGTON — The overmatched Republican election committee led by Nevada Sen. John Ensign is cutting back on advertising heading into the meat of the election season.

Ensign said Friday that GOP senators have failed to come through with donations to the National Republican Senatorial Committee even after he challenged them to step up their giving at a luncheon late last month.

At the time, NRSC chairman Ensign said he would match Democrats “dollar for dollar” in political advertising, even though the Republican unit was at a nearly 2-to-1 cash disadvantage to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In a statement Friday, Ensign waved a white flag — and blamed fellow Republicans.

“I recently challenged my colleagues to step up to the plate and help me provide the resources our candidates need to compete in races across the country — to match the DSCC expenditures in targeted races,” Ensign said.

“It has become clear that my call has gone largely unanswered,” he said. “I have had no choice but to decrease the total budget of our (independent expenditures) unit.

“It is still my hope that my Republican colleagues will engage in this election and help match what the Democrats are doing,” Ensign said. “If they do, I will adjust our budget accordingly.”

Republicans have been outraised all year. And the GOP is defending 23 Senate seats compared with 12 for Democrats. Most analysts predict election night will not be fun for Ensign as Republicans could lose a half-dozen seats or more.

At of the end of June, Ensign’s committee that recruits and helps elect GOP Senate candidates had $24.6 million in the bank. Its Democratic counterpart had $46.2 million.

NRSC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher declined to say how much the budget for advertising was being reduced. The committee was preparing to disclose how much money Republican senators did contribute following Ensign’s challenge.

The Politico Web site reported Friday that the NRSC had reserved about $6 million in advertising time to support Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s re-election campaign in North Carolina, but pulled the commitment on Wednesday.

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