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York GOP funds dwindled to $500 at end of 2015
The York County Republican Committee ended last year with the lowest amount of cash in the bank since 2000.
The local GOP had just $529 on hand at the end of 2015 and spent more money than it took in. The party started 2015 with $8,758 on hand, raised $96,280 but spent $104,270. according to finance reports filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
That's compared to the York County Democrats' end-of-year balance of just more than $25,000.
But Alex Shorb, head of the York GOP, said the party isn't in financial dire straits.
The party raked in about $22,000 in the early part of this year through its Chairman's Club collection drive, on top of donations that regularly roll in.
"We're very comfortable," he said. "I think we're pretty confident we'll be able to cover expenses through the end of the year."
Follow the money: The Republicans had $2,182 on hand at the start of the latest reporting cycle, which was from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31, 2015, and raised $9,175 for a combined $11,357, but had expenses of $10,827, the report says.
The GOP's single largest donor during the latest reporting cycle was Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner, who gave $2,500 in December. The outspoken senator routinely gave that same amount throughout much of the year; combined with an additional $900, he gave a total of $18,400, according to finance reports.
The party's largest monthly expenses were for rent, accounting for $1,800, for its 2453 Kingston Road headquarters in Springettsbury Township, and paying its one employee, the reports show.
In 2014, the party raised $144,805, and it brought $8,758 over to 2015, the reports show.
Dems: The Democrats started 2015 with a balance of $34,128 and raised an additional $61,208, for a combined $95,336. The party spent $69,952, for a year-end balance of $25,384, according to the reports.
Chad Baker, head of York's Democratic Party, credited Bob Kefauver, who stepped down as party chair in the middle of last year, for the party's fundraising and solid fiscal footing.
Though the party doesn't boast a few donors who give large sums of cash, it has a large group of supporters who give comparatively small amounts of money.
"That provides that sense of ownership," Baker said.
Through the years, the Republicans have outraised and outspent the Democrats, accumulating large cash balances in the process.
In 2004, the GOP had more than double the amount of year-end cash as the Democrats, closing out the year with under $60,000 while the Democrats had $24,371.
However, the tables have been turned the past two years, with the GOP ending 2014 with $4,132 compared to the Democrats' $34,128.
Baker said he hopes the added cash will make a difference where it matters: on Election Day.
"We wanted to have some (cash) on hand to support our candidates," he said. "We're going to do everything we can" to get them elected.
What it means: With a presidential primary just around the corner, does the amount of money in a political party's bank account translate to votes at the ballot box?
One political analyst says not really, especially in the Republican stronghold that is York County.
"For me, in days gone by, I would have looked at it and said, 'Man. Look at what they've raised," said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. "The parties aren't the major fundraisers anymore. They're not the big source of money. The party plays less and less a role in the campaigns."
Donors tend to cut out the middleman and give their money straight to candidates of their choosing, he said.
"People don't identify with parties like they once did," Madonna said. "They're going to support the candidate they like."
Shorb echoed Madonna's remarks but added the party also plays a vital role.
"Sometimes people tend to give to specific candidates," he said. "We also need to show them the importance of our organization."
Though the Democrats have the edge in funds, Republican still hold the majority when it comes to registered voters.
Of the 271,887 registered voters in York County,132,122 are Republicans while the Democrats have 96,634. There are 43,131 non-affiliated or other voters in the county, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Changes: Political parties see changes, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, in their ability to collect donations when there's a change in party leadership, Madonna said.
The York GOP saw a major shakeup in 2014 when the York 912 Patriots fielded candidates to oust Bob Wilson and Anne Zerbe, the chair and vice-chair, respectively, at the time. Shorb was elected chair and Allison Blew became vice-chair.
Another possibility in the drop in contributions is some donors know a party is receiving big money from a few donors and think they don't need to contribute, Madonna said.
"It just many not be their focus," he said.
To view campaign finance reports for the political parties or candidates, go to the Pennsylvania Department of State website, dos.pa.gov, and do a search under the "Campaign Finance" link.
Here's a look at the amount of cash York County's Republican and Democratic parties had on hand at the end of each year from 2000 to 2015:
- 2000: $6,167
- 2001: $26,430.
- 2002: $29,138
- 2003: $51,344
- 2004: $59,851
- 2005: $50,598
- 2006: $35,514
- 2007: $26,477
- 2008: $29,853
- 2009: $6,183
- 2010: $12,749
- 2011: $15,259
- 2012: $12,591
- 2013: $8,382
- 2014: $8,758
- 2015: $529
- 2000: $13,521
- 2001: $3,798
- 2002: $11,407
- 2003: $8,590
- 2004: $24,371
- 2005: $14,952
- 2006: $10,122
- 2007: $22,989
- 2008: $34,397
- 2009: $34,789
- 2010: $17,938
- 2011: $7,397
- 2012: $5,113
- 2013: $6,786
- 2014: $34,128
- 2015: $25,384
— Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.