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Republican Governors Association raises $31 million in three months

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour helped the Republican Governors Association raise $30 million in the last three months. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Republican Governors Association collected $31 million over the last three months and ended September with $31.5 million on hand, a stunning total that could allow the organization to drastically expand the gubernatorial playing field over the last few weeks of the 2010 campaign.

The RGA's cash total for the year is now $59 million and, in the last three months alone, the committee matched its fundraising for the entire 2006 election. (Yes, you read that right.)

The Democratic Governors Association collected $10 million from July 1 to Sept. 30 and ended last month with $13 million in the bank.

"Our fundraising numbers have allowed the Republican Governors Association to dramatically expand the political playing field and put the Democrats on their heels," said RGA executive director Nick Ayers. "The RGA is in position to make significant gains in critical swing states as well as those states projected to gain or lose seats after reapportionment."

The RGA (and DGA) -- unlike their congressional counterpart committees -- are free to accept unlimited donations. One such contribution -- a $1 million donation from News Corp. -- drew scads of negative headlines for the committee in recent months.

While the $10-million-a-month pace of the RGA since July 1 is sure to draw headlines, it's the $31 million the organization has left to spend that may be the more important number going forward.

The RGA is currently up with ads in a dozen states: Georgia, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Ohio, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut and Michigan. The committee has spent $1 million or more in 17 states, $3 million or more in 9 states and $5 million or more in six states.

With more than double the cash on hand of the DGA, the RGA will not only be able to sustain that heavy spending -- particularly in big and expensive states like Ohio and Florida -- but also move into any state where they sense opportunity in the final three weeks of the 2010 campaign.

The massive haul by the RGA doesn't just impact 2010, however. It's also a clear shot-across-the-bow by RGA Chairman Haley Barbour (Miss.) to other Republicans, like him, considering runs for president in 2012.

Though Barbour would need to raise money within federal limits in a presidential bid -- and would be barred from accepting the unlimited contributions he can gather at the RGA -- it's hard not to look at the numbers coming out of the RGA and not marvel/quake at the Mississippi governor's fundraising capacity.

By Chris Cillizza  | October 14, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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