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GOP super PACs have big fundraising, cash advantage

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By Kim Geiger
Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Republican-aligned "super PACs" are headed into the final months of the 2012 campaign having outpaced super PACs on the left in fundraising by nearly 3-to-1, enjoying a cash advantage that's sure to have Democrats spooked.
Even after a costly GOP presidential primary campaign, Republican-aligned super PACs ended June with almost $80 million in the bank -- more than Democratic super PACs have raised in the entire campaign cycle, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. Democratic super PACs entered July with just less than $28 million cash on hand.
The disparity could spell trouble for Democrats with time running out for the party's wealthy donors to fill the gap.
Although super PACs do not officially align themselves with either party, researchers at the Sunlight Foundation categorized each one based on the group's spending patterns.
Since the beginning of 2011, Republican-aligned super PACs have raised $227 million compared with less than $80 million for those supporting Democrats, the analysis found.
The disparity was easier for Democrats to dismiss in the early months of the year, when the primary campaign led Republican super PACs to outspend Democratic super PACs by $90 million. But Republican super PACs have maintained their fundraising edge throughout the campaign cycle, building on the enthusiasm of wealthy donors whose willingness to write big checks appears endless. Meanwhile, Democratic super PACs have tried to keep pace with Republicans in advertising spending, despite a base that seems unable - or unwilling - to make up the fundraising difference as the general election nears.
Democratic super PACs raised just $36.1 million from April through June, compared with Republican super PACs' $69.4 million haul.
Priorities USA Action, the super PAC dedicated to re-electing President Barack Obama, raised just $6.1 million in June and ended the month with $10.6 million cash on hand. It was the group's best month of the campaign.
Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney's candidacy, ended June with $21.6 million in the bank after raising $20.7 million that month.
©2012 Tribune Co.
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