How Gore's Woes Mean a Payday for Some Dems

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Bill Clinton and Al Gore's wild '96 money-grub showed that Democrats could raise money too. But now they're not the only Dems with fund-raising prowess: New numbers show House Democrat campaign coffers with an impressive — and totally unprecedented — cash-on-hand advantage over the cigar-chompers across the aisle, and it's George W. Bush who can take a lot of the credit.

Not that the House Republicans are paupers — they've still raised $90 million, more money than the Dems, but they've been burning it too, to the tune of $68 million so far ("investments," in the flack-speak of nervous GOP staffers). House Democrats have been more careful, and still the money keeps rolling in, because these days George W. has them looking like the only decent bet in town.

A would-be Democratic donor looks at the polls, looks at Bush, looks at Gore... and suddenly sees the House, GOP-controlled by only six seats, as his last best investment opportunity. A big check made out to the Democrats, who'll then pour it into the close races in hopes of tipping the numbers, puts the donor in a position to be a hero to any number of Democrats newly in charge of powerful committees who'll be very, very grateful. And congressional Democrats, used to being outspent 2 to 1, are quietly pimping those expectations all the way to the bank.