RALEIGH — The North Carolina Democratic Party, which has staggered through months of infighting in the wake of sexual harassment allegations at party headquarters, is well behind in the race for money with Republicans heading into the fall election.
Campaign finance reports filed this week with the State Board of Elections show the state party raised a little less than $185,000 during a 10-week period between late April and June 30, when it had $188,000 in cash on hand. Those numbers are a small fraction of the money accumulated by the state Republican Party, which reported raising nearly $772,000 during the period and having $965,500 in cash.
The state GOP, whose fundraising operations improved in the 2010 election cycle and benefited from its members taking control of the Legislature in early 2011, outraised the state Democratic Party in almost every category. State Republicans brought in $554,000 from outside political committees such as political action committees – more than three times the $166,000 Democrats raised.
The disparity is more dramatic when it comes to individual contributions. The reports show Republicans raked in $212,000, while Democrats brought in a meager $2,700, the reports said.
“There was extreme disarray with the Democratic Party in North Carolina, and there isn’t a solid message going forward about how to make the state better,” said state Republican Party spokesman Rob Lockwood. “They’re giving their donors nothing to invest in.”
The GOP advantage is a reversal of fortune compared to previous election cycles, when the Democrats’ control of the Executive Mansion and the Legislature usually has given them a comfortable fundraising lead. Just four years ago, the state Democratic Party had raised $510,000 during a similar period ending June 30 – more than double the total by the state Republican Party.
State Democratic Party spokesman Walton Robinson said the comparatively low fundraising has nothing to do with recent turmoil within the party.
Party Chairman David Parker remains at his job even after Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, party gubernatorial nominee Walter Dalton and other Democratic statewide elected leaders called on him to resign over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against the former party executive director. Executive Director Jay Parmley resigned but denied harassing a now former employee.
Parker submitted his resignation to Democratic activists in May, but a majority of the party’s executive committee declined to accept it. Parker returned to his job, giving a political black eye to Dalton, who had spoken to committee members hours before and thanked Parker for stepping aside. It also angered national Democratic leaders as they prepare for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and as President Barack Obama campaigns hard in North Carolina, a battleground state.
Robinson attributes the disadvantage to in part to the GOP control of the Legislature. The party with power often attracts more contributions. Robinson said it’s also helped Republicans that Pat McCrory faced no significant challenges in his May gubernatorial primary, while Democrats had a competitive primary in which donors gave to Dalton and his rivals.