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Senate Democrats have quietly started implementing their plan to keep the majority by transferring funds to state parties with top races in 2014.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has begun making monthly transfers to these organizations to help construct first-rate, on-the-ground affiliates ahead of the midterms.
Democrats must defend a large number of seats — nine of the cycle’s 11 most competitive Senate races — to retain their majority. Democratic incumbents are running in five of these races, providing the party a prime opportunity to coordinate at the state level early in the cycle.
Battle-tested communications operatives have already been sent to state parties in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — homes of some of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats seeking re-election. Including those three states — but not counting the Massachusetts special election earlier this year — the DSCC has transferred a total of $84,000 to state parties as of Sept. 30, according to figures compiled by Political MoneyLine.
Committee funds were also sent to state parties in Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Montana and West Virginia. Funds often arrived in increments of $3,000 per month, although the DSCC would not confirm the exact purpose of these or any other transfers.
“We have a real advantage over Republicans in this area,” DSCC Deputy Executive Director Matt Canter said. “Because we’ve avoided primaries in competitive states and are unified behind our candidate, we’re now already building strong field and message operations for the general just as we’ve done in previous cycles.”
The three communications operatives sent to state Democratic parties so far this year include Patrick Burgwinkle in Arkansas, Andrew Zucker in Louisiana and Ben Ray in North Carolina.
Burgwinkle is a Democratic National Committee communications team alumnus. Zucker worked this year on Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey’s special-election campaign in Massachusetts and ran communications in 2012 for the Ohio Democratic Party for a top-tier Senate race. Ray worked at the Indiana Democratic Party in the past cycle, which ended with an upset win by Sen. Joe Donnelly.
The DSCC has sent more than $9,000 to North Carolina in each of the past two months, more than it sent any other state.
State parties vary in quality among both parties, ranging from excellent to inept. National parties often intervene when there’s a competitive race in the state.
While the national party committees regularly duel on issues and races, Democratic parties in nearly every Senate battleground state for some time have been aggressively pushing narratives and attempting to define GOP candidates in hopes of gaining an edge for the general.