Top Super PACs Have $113 Million for Final Push to Election

(Bloomberg) -- The top four super political action committees in the fight for control of Congress started mid-October with $113.4 million in the bank for the final wave of advertising and get-out-the-vote drives leading up to the Nov. 6 elections.

The Congressional Leadership Fund and Senate Leadership Fund on the Republican side, and the House Majority PAC and the Senate Majority PAC on the Democratic side, are some of the biggest spenders in what is likely to be the costliest midterm campaign ever.

Billionaires with ties to Wall Street donated tens of millions to the groups, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, brokerage firm founder Charles Schwab and hedge fund executive Stephen Schwarzman, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures filed Thursday.

Bloomberg gave $20 million to the Senate Majority PAC, while philanthropist Herbert Sandler gave $1.5 million and media mogul Haim Saban gave $1 million. The super-PAC had $37 million in the bank after raising $36.4 million and spending $38.3 million.

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. He’s pledged to give millions of dollars in 2018 to help Democrats retake control of the U.S. House, and told the New York Times that he’s considering a 2020 campaign for president as a Democrat.

Senate GOP

Schwab, along with his wife, Helen, contributed $4 million to the Senate Leadership Fund. The super-PAC, which is affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, pulled in $22 million during the period and started Oct. 18 with $34.4 million in the bank after spending $34.4 million.

Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive officer of Blackstone Group LP, contributed $3 million to the SLF.

Bloomberg also gave $20 million in cash and $3.1 million in in-kind research to Independence USA PAC, a super political action committee that’s supporting House Democrats. It had $18.2 million cash on hand after spending $7.5 million in the filing period. He also gave $1.4 million to VoteVets, a PAC that supports veterans running for office.

Battle for Congress

The two parties and their allies are furiously raising and spending money as the campaign enters its final days. In the first major political test of Donald Trump’s presidency, Democrats are threatening to overturn the Republican majority in the House, while Republicans are positioned to hold control of the Senate.

The latest FEC filings, which cover the first 17 days of October, are the last comprehensive disclosure required before Election Day. All committees spending in the midterms -- including campaigns, super-PACs and parties -- had to report donations, spending and cash-on-hand by midnight.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, reported raising $17.1 million. It spent $28.9 million during the period and had $23.9 million in the bank.

Democratic Donors

The House Majority PAC, which supports Democrats, had $18.2 million cash on hand after spending $26 million and raising $9.5 million. Joshua Bekenstein, co-chairman of Bain Capital Inc., gave $1.5 million.

Priorities USA, a Democratic super-PAC focusing on voter engagement and turnout, raised $9.7 million and had $1.4 million on hand after spending $11.1 million during the period. Hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman of Paloma Partners Management Co. was the group’s top donor during the 17 days, at $1.1 million.

Billionaire Tom Steyer gave $9 million to NextGen Climate Action Committee, his super-PAC which has been supporting Democratic candidates through organizing and voter outreach efforts. It had $1.6 million in the bank after spending $8 million.

The Republican National Committee bolstered its spending to $30.8 million, up from $16.7 million for the month of September. It raised $13.7 million, including $6 million from small-dollar donors, and ended with $34.2 million cash on hand.

Party Committee

The Democratic National Committee spent $11.1 million during the period. It raised $15.3 million and started Oct. 18 with $14.5 million.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, headed into the final days with $16.8 million in the bank after spending $35.7 million in the first 17 days of October. It raised $21.8 million during that period, including $3.7 million from donors giving $200 or less and borrowed $5 million from Bank of America.

After raising $11.1 million and spending $22 million, the National Republican Congressional Committee had $33 million left in the bank. It was the eighth-straight filing period in which the DCCC out-raised and outspent its GOP counterpart, which reported no debts.

The Senate GOP’s campaign organization, the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $15.1 million, including a $5 million line of credit it set up the previous month with Chain Bridge Bank, a Virginia-based institution that services GOP committees. The NRSC spent $16.3 million, and had $14.3 million in the bank at the end of the filing period.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $26.5 million, spent $27.5 million, and started Oct. 18 with $21.4 million in the bank.

Below are some of the fundraising totals from Senate races rated as tossups by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report:

Arizona

Republican Representative Martha McSally reported raising $3.6 million and having $2.5 million in the bank. Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema raised $3.3 million and had $1.3 million available.

Florida

Florida Governor Rick Scott had $2.3 million in the bank in his contest against Senator Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent. He raised $14.1 million, including $12.1 million he contributed himself.

Scott, who served as vice chairman of Columbia Hospital Corp. before entering politics, has put $51 million of his own money into his Senate campaign so far. The New Republican PAC, which also supports him, raised $1.9 million, spent $4.9 million and had $1.1 million in the bank.

Nelson started Oct. 18 with $3.8 million in the bank, after raising $3.1 million. Nelson’s campaign spent $7.7 million, compared to $13.7 million for Scott.

Indiana

Republican Mike Braun reported raising $2.9 million -- including $1.6 million in loans from himself -- and had $1.4 million in the bank for his challenge of incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, who reported raising $3.7 million and had $2.3 million available.

Missouri

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley reported raising $1.7 million and having $2.8 million in the bank for his campaign against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who listed receipts of $4.8 million and cash on hand of $1.8 million.

Montana

Incumbent Jon Tester raised $1.3 million, compared to $981,404 for challenger Matt Rosendale, the state auditor and a self-proclaimed Trump Republican. Tester ended the period with $1.6 million cash on hand, compared to $524,379 for Rosendale.

Nevada

Democratic Representative Jacky Rosen raised $5.1 million and had $768,852 available for her bid to unseat Republican Senator Dean Heller. The incumbent, who is viewed as one of the most vulnerable GOP senators, raised $1.4 million and had $2.2 million in the bank.

Tennessee

Former Governor Phil Bredesen reported raising $1.5 million and having $1 million in the bank for his Democratic campaign. Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn raised $1.3 million and had $3.4 million in the bank.

Texas

Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke reported raising $8.5 million in his bid to topple Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. O’Rourke spent $21 million during the 17 days and had $10.3 million in the bank. Cruz raised $5.2 million, spent $9.7 million and had $6.7 million in the bank.

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