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DNC Debt Totals $21 Million At Start Of 2013; Obama Campaign Owes Too

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DNC DEBT
President Barack Obama (seen here on Jan. 29, 2013) starts the new year with $5.8 million in campaign debt. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- After running the most expensive campaign in U.S. political history, President Barack Obama's reelection team and the Democratic National Committee are going to have to settle their debts.

Both Obama for America and the DNC entered 2013 with more debt than cash on hand, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday. Obama for America had $3.3 million cash on hand and $5.8 million in debt. The DNC had a much bigger burden -- $4.3 million cash on hand and $21 million in debt.

Debt for a president who never has to run again is not that big of a problem. But the DNC's $21 million owed could be a burden as it goes to work to defend the Democratic Senate majority and win more seats in the House in the 2014 elections. The DNC declined to comment for this article.

This would not be the first time that a major political party organization began an election cycle deep in the hole. The Republican National Committee started the 2012 cycle with $23 million in debt after Michael Steele's turn as party chairman.

Unlike the RNC's predicament in January 2011 -- it owed $5 million within one month of starting the 2012 cycle -- the DNC has until June 2014 to pay off the $15 million in loans that it owes.

The DNC raised just $1 million at the end of 2012, according to its FEC report. One bright spot, however, is its continued connection to the still chugging Obama fundraising machine.

The Obama campaign reported pulling in $5.7 million during the last five weeks of 2012. The majority of that money came through transfers from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising vehicle for the Obama campaign, the DNC and Democratic state parties. A good portion of the victory fund's money appears to have come from post-election merchandise sales.

The Obama Victory Fund also transferred tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to Democratic state parties in Colorado, Florida, Virginia and Wisconsin. Each of these states will hold important gubernatorial races in 2013 and 2014.

The victory fund, which had raised money for a long list of state parties in 2012, has now trimmed the list for future fundraising to just four: Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Virginia. These all offer major pick-up opportunities for Democrats in their gubernatorial races.

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