It’s been a year since the RNC had to clean house in the midst of a fiscal collapse, installing Reince Priebus as chair and attempting to address a mountain of debt. One year later, the deficit has disappeared, and the RNC now has a war chest of $7 million in cash for the 2012 fight:
When GOP kingmakers elected Reince Priebus chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), they had one thing on their mind.
One year later, Priebus has shown them what they wanted to see: money. And lots of it.
Republicans enjoyed a historic election in November 2010, but when Priebus took over a couple of months later, the RNC was $23 million in debt. Many donors had stopped giving to the RNC, which had been tarnished by various high-profile controversies.
Priebus has brought them back, wiping out the RNC’s debt.
The RNC has $20 million in cash against $13 million in outstanding debt for a $7 million balance, a $30-million turnaround in a single year. In fact, the Priebus-led RNC now has a million-dollar edge on its rival DNC, which has $12.5 million in cash and $6.5 million in debt. That’s not just impressive, it’s close to miraculous after the mess Priebus inherited.
How has he accomplished this? Mainly, he’s kept his head down and stuck to fundraising and organizing. He doesn’t make nearly as many public appearances and media hits as his predecessor Michael Steele, who kept a high profile but often stumbled into controversy by doing so. Priebus also has kept a tight rein on RNC spending in order to keep debt from piling up and creating an obstacle for the GOP. As a result, former RNC chairs Haley Barbour and Ed Gillespie credit Priebus with “restor[ing] faith at the RNC among donors and activists,” which is always Job One for major-party chairs.
What does that mean for the upcoming election? In 2010, the financial and organizing woes of the RNC hurt the final GOTV push in the midterm elections, perhaps costing the GOP a couple of Congressional pickups in an otherwise excellent year — the credit for which went to outside groups that did the fundraising and organizing that the RNC couldn’t. Now that the party finds itself back in the black and leading its rival — despite Barack Obama’s prodigious fundraising over the last few months — Republicans at least have a shot at out-organizing Democrats on the ground in November.