Deadline arrives for candidates, committees to tell FEC how much they raised, spent in 2013

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By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press

The Associated Press

FILE - This Nov. 23, 2013 file photo shows Florida Republican Congressional candidate David Jolly talking with supporters in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Need proof outside money is going to matter in this year’s elections? Just look at spending this week. Republicans are sending almost $2 million into a Florida special election for the U.S. House and Democrats are standing by with almost the same amount. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — An early but incomplete snapshot of 2013's political fundraising is coming into focus.

Friday is the deadline for candidates, their committees and some of their outside groups to file their end-of-year financial reports with the Federal Elections Commission. The reports are unlikely to provide a clear view of political advantages, however, because many of the outside groups operate under rules that don't require financial reports until March or later.

Early reports show heavy spending will be the norm. The Republican Governors Association said it raised $50.3 million last year and has roughly the same amount in the bank. Its rival, the Democratic Governors Association, said it raised $28 million last year but did not release its bank balance.

There are 36 gubernatorial races in 2014. Of those, Republicans control the governor's office in 22 states.

The Democrats' committee to elect members to the House raised almost $76 million last year to fund its effort to retake the majority. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported it has $29.3 million in the bank.

The National Republican Congressional Committee trailed, raising almost $61 million and banking $21 million for this year's elections.

The GOP enjoys a 32-seat advantage in the House, 232 Republicans to 200 Democrats. There are three open seats.

On the Senate side of Capitol Hill, Democrats' campaign committee raised $52.6 million to defend their majority. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also reported it had $3.75 million in debt heading into the election year.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee was expected to release its year-end tallies later Friday and was expected to trail the Democrats' fundraising haul.

Thirty-five Senate seats are up this year, and Democrats will be defending 21 of them. The balance of power in the Senate is 45 Republicans, 53 Democrats and two independents who generally vote with the Democrats. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to wrest the Senate from Democrats' control.

The Republican National Committee said it raised almost $81 million last year and has $9 million saved for this year's elections. The RNC said it's debt-free.

The RNC was expected to outraise the Democratic National Committee, which also has a Friday reporting deadline. The DNC went into December carrying $15.6 million in debt.

Individual contenders also face the deadline.

Senators and Senate candidates must file paper reports to the Senate, but some choose to file electronically, too. There is usually a lag for paper filings before they make their way to the FEC.

House members and those looking to become representatives have to file their fundraising reports.

But some of the biggest spenders won't be included in Friday's reports because, technically, they are not considered campaign operations. That means it will be months before a true assessment of political spending is possible.

One example is Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The group already has spent around $6 million to criticize Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and $1.7 million to criticize Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The two are among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats.

All told, the Koch-backed organization has spent more on television ads this year in seven states with competitive Senate races than all the outside Democratic groups combined have spent on Senate races in 10 hard-fought states. The group also has started a national advertising campaign on Fox News Channel and CNN.

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