This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 29, 2011 - Fifteen months before the 2012 elections, as both major parties craft their appeals, the Missouri Republican Party and its allied legislative arms are in a stronger financial position.
The latest campaign-finance reports show that the state GOP had $304,237 in the bank, as of June 30 --- which was 20 times the bank account reported by the state Democratic Party.
The comparisons are similarly stark when it comes to the two parties' legislative arms. The House Republican Campaign Committee reported $153,054 in the bank, compared to its Democratic counterpart's $20,281.
The rebranded Republican state Senate campaign arm -- now called the Missouri Senate Campaign Committee -- reported raising $59,750 during the past three months, with $47,854 in the bank. The state Senate's Democratic counterpart filed a "limited activity,'' meaning it had raised and spent less than $500.
The bank accounts only tell part of the story, however. The state Democratic Party had actually raised more than twice as much as the state GOP during the past three months -- $258,472 compared to $106,061 for the GOP. But the same also is true for spending: the state Democratic Party spent $247,500, compared to $121,032 for the Republican Party.
A state Democratic Party spokeswoman attributed her side's higher expenses to the costs of putting on its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, held June 18 in St. Louis. But the Democratic Party's smaller bank account, at the end of the quarter, indicates that at least some of the Jefferson-Jackson event's money-raising -- the event's chief purpose --went straight to candidates' coffers, not to the party.
For example: Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has reported a hefty edge over his likely Republican challenger, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party's latest round of money-raising signaled the political leanings of the region's top corporations. The state GOP collected $25,000 apiece from Emerson Electric, AT&T and Anheuser-Busch. Another $20,000 came from AmerenUE.
Only AT&T has given a similar sum to the state Democrats this year. The rest gave smaller donations, or none at all.
The state Republican Party's larger bank account has bolstered its role as the main conduit for GOP attacks against Nixon.
Today, for example, it was the state GOP -- not Kinder -- that blasted Nixon's decision to hire Mike Nietzel, former president of Missouri State University as a senior policy adviser, with a salary of $100,000. The GOP sought to contrast that hiring to the recent decision of the Missouri Department of Transportation, in a budget-cutting move, to lay off 1,200 workers.