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GOP governors group dwarfs Democrats in fundraising

RGA outraised DGA by $22 million in 2013

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With 36 gubernatorial seats up for election this year, a key Republican political organization reported a significant fundraising advantage over its Democratic counterpart.

The Republican Governors Association, the biggest outside spending group at the state level, outraised the Democratic Governors Association, by more than $22 million in 2013 — $50.3 million for Republicans for the year compared to $28 million for the Democratic organization and its related super PAC and non-profit arm.

The DGA’s top donors in 2013 were labor unions and pharmaceutical companies, according to filings submitted to the Internal Revenue Service.

The International Association of Firefighters and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, donated $400,000 and $375,000, respectively. The drug industry’s top lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, donated $325,000.

Health insurer Aetna gave $300,000 and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer gave $275,650. Other top donors included hedge fund billionaire environmentalists Paul Tudor Jones of Connecticut and Thomas Steyer of California, who each gave $250,000.

The DGA’s filing covered the last six months of 2013. The RGA has yet to file that report. Top donors to the RGA in the first half of 2013 include David Koch and deceased Republican donors Bob Perry and Contran Corp. owner Harold Simmons, each of whom contributed $1 million.

The two organizations, based in Washington, D.C., are known as “527” groups. They can accept unlimited donations from individuals, corporations and unions. They then funnel that money into state races through direct contributions and independent expenditures, which usually come in the form of advertisements.

In some states, the groups are the top donors to the candidates.

Democrats hope to avoid a repeat of 2010. That year, Republicans gained five gubernatorial seats, thanks largely to a record fundraising haul that year by the RGA, which took in $87 million under the leadership of then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Update, Jan. 30, 2014, 7:25 p.m.: This story has been updated to include information regarding individual donors to the Democratic Governors Association.