The dramatic difference in how much money the Democratic Party of Arkansas and the Republican Party of Arkansas have in the bank is likely to play a significant role in next year’s legislative races.
Previously, I reported on the revenue and and expenditure reports of each party, but I couldn’t give a complete financal picture because under state and federal reporting requirements, neither party is legally required to reveal their cash-on-hand balances.
However, both parties publicly reveal their cash-on-hand balances to their respective state committees when holding quarterly state committee meetings.
Why do the cash-on-hand balances of Arkansas’s state parties matter?
The fight to control the State Legislature in 2012 is going to be hard-fought and very expensive and the amount of funds the political parties have available will have a direct impact on many legislative races. A state party can send direct mail, run radio ads, etc. for legislative nominees, and that financial help makes a difference in a close race.
On Saturday, I attended the Democratic Party of Arkansas’s quarterly meeting in Conway. The DPA revealed their cash-on-hand balance as of October 28 was $1,530,965.00.
Yes, you read that right — that’s more than $1.5 million.
As a former Executive Director of the DPA, I found that figure very impressive and a bit staggering. I believe that may be the largest amount the DPA has had on hand in decades. Apparently, the large warchest comes from money left over from Beebe’s successful re-election and extra funds left over from Beebe’s 2011 inauguration activities and from DPA fundraising activities.
To determine the amount of money the RPA had on hand, I contacted Katherine Vasilos, Communications Director of the Republican Party of Arkansas. Vasilos said today that at the last quarterly meeting on July 23, the RPA reported to their state commiittee their cash-on-hand balance was $60,854.
$1,530,965 vs. $60,854. Which warchest would you prefer heading into the 2012 election year? I cannot put too fine a point on how this dramatic difference in funding is going to play a role in next year’s legislative races.
To be fair, however, the RPA has raised and spent funds since July 23, so let’s do some math to see if we can determine their cash-on-hand balance as of right now.
According to reports recently filed with the Secretary of State, from July 1 to September 30 the RPA raised $143,061 and spent $167,120, meaning they were $24,049 in the hole last quarter. In early October, the RPA had a fundraising dinner for about 500 people, and based on my experience in organizing those types of events, their net profit was probably around $40,000. From January 1 to September 30, their average monthly expenditures were $47,041, which is likely what they spent in October. The RPA also averages roughly $38,230 in contributions each month.
All these numbers essentially mean the RPA probably has roughly $85,000 on hand as of right now. No doubt my numbers could be off, but having previously run a state party, I’d bet that figure is probably close to accurate.
To reconfigure my earlier statement: DPA = $1,530,965 vs. RPA = $85,000 (approximately).
Their extremely low cash-on-hand balance may explain why the RPA’s executive committee voted last month to have Chairman Doyle Webb serve in the dual role of paid chairman and executive director. Chase Duggar, the last RPA executive director, announced his departure on August 11. I’m sure the RPA would like to have a full-time executive director, but they probably just can’t afford it right now.
Republicans want folks to believe their control of the State Legislature is a foregone conclusion, and frankly some believe the spin. However, once you start examining the numbers, it appears the Republican Party is walking into a tank battle armed only with a pocket knife.
UPDATE: It turns out my figures were more optimistic when calculating the RPA’s cash-on-hand balance. I incorrectly assumed their October 6 fundraiser with Governor Jan Brewer was a success, thus giving the RPA a financial cushion, but apparently it was a colossal failure.
The RPA barely has enough money for one month of operating expenditures with only $33,000 in the bank, according to today’s Michael Wickline story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I wonder if Wickline got the idea for today’s story from my blog and exclusive weekend reporting? But to Wickline’s credit, he did ask the RPA what their current cash-on-hand was, while I just asked about the last time they publicly reported it.
The RPA is in dire financial straits and can barely pay their light bill. Not the position you want to be in heading into a tough election year.