Illinois Democrats are Trouncing Republicans with Campaign Cash
2021 is a consequential year for political fundraising. Illinois is set to have its legislative districts redrawn and politicians are revving up their engines for the 2022 general elections. Every district will be redrawn requiring extra campaigning and outreach by challengers and incumbents, not to mention the difficulties of campaigning in a pandemic. A strong influx of cash could make or break political campaigns. Candidates will have to contend not only with all the pressures of an election cycle, but also with new district boundaries that require careful strategizing and voter contact. The stakes are high, so how are top Democratic and Republican political committees preparing for it? Spoiler alert: Democrats are trouncing Republicans when it comes to funding.
Democrats currently have five active party-wide committees.Each of these committees may broadly distribute funds to other Democratic committees across the state, helping pool and direct party funds to various strategic races. Put together, the five Democratic committees had a total of $5,411,409 in available funds as of March 31st, and raised $3,139,147 from January 1st to March 31st. By contrast, Republicans have four active party-wide committees.As of March 31st, all of them totaled $434,280 in available funds, having raised $432,559.68 from during the same time period - a startling advantage for Democrats, giving them a major financial edge of more than 12 times the current funds of Republicans.
Much the same holds true for the committees of each party’s leadership: Senate President Don Harmon’s individual committee had $5,988,860 in available funds as of March 31st, with newly-elected Speaker Chris Welch holding $1,223,835 (Note: Madigan had over $10 million in his individual campaign account). By contrast, Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie only had $432,323, with House Minority Leader Jim Durkin holding $266,564. Outside of the General Assembly, Governor Pritzker’s committee currently has $35,084,460 in available funds ($35,000,000 of which was donated by Pritzker himself on March 12th), while Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton’s committee holds $33,663. Once again, Democrats take the lead - and it bears mentioning that funds in these individual committees can also be transferred to other candidates. These well-funded individual committees may also serve as party-wide assets.
Democrats are clearly poised to have a strong financial advantage next year - a lot more money is going to start trickling into political committees as the year goes by, but the Democratic Party has a formidable head start. However, it remains to be seen how much difference it will ultimately make: Democrats poured millions into political committees supporting last year’s progressive tax ballot initiative, yet it still failed to pass when a single Republican donor (Ken Griffin) stepped up and matched the pot. As always, it will ultimately come down to individual Illinoisans, and for whom they choose to cast their vote.
Note: Additional leadership funds were collected by both parties via A -1 filings: Republicans received $133,750 and Democrats received $288,000.
Meghan Coleman contributed
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