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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Majority PAC

Political leanings: Democratic

Spending target: Unknown

Majority PAC is a Democratic super PAC created to “protect the Democratic majority in the Senate.” In 2012, 23 Democratic seats and only 10 Republican seats are up for grabs. The Republicans, who now hold 47 seats, need to pick up four seats to gain control of the Senate.

As a super PAC, Majority PAC is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts provided that all donations and expenditures are reported publicly. The group was created in 2010 by two Democratic staffers: Jim Jordan, a former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director, and Monica Dixon, a former aide to Vice President Al Gore. It was formed under the name “Commonsense Ten,” and raised almost $4.3 million in the 2010 election cycle. The largest contributions came from the NEA Advocacy Fund (that’s the National Education Association), the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union, the American Association for Justice and Joshua Bekenstein, managing director of Bain Capital.

As a super PAC, Commonsense Ten did not contribute directly to candidates, but it spent $38,853 in advertising for Democratic candidates and $3,218,180 against Republican candidates. It was most involved in the Senate races in Washington state, Colorado, Missouri and West Virginia, and was ranked 6th in 2010 in total spending among super PACs.

In 2011, Commonsense Ten changed its name to Majority PAC, and Rebecca Lambe joined as a senior adviser. Lambe was the chief political strategist for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada during his 2010 reelection campaign, and has been credited by Reid for the party’s recent successes in Nevada. Reid’s former chief of staff, Susan McCue, also joined the committee.

As of June 30, Majority PAC had raised $9.6 million for the 2012 campaign cycle, spending $5.5 million on TV ads. The PAC has focused the majority of its spending during the 2012 campaign supporting Sen. Claire McCaskill’s reelection bid in Missouri, and opposing Republican Josh Mandel’s attempt to unseat incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio.

The 2012 boost in receipts comes from two large donations from Euclidean Capital LLC President James H. Simons totaling $1.5 million, in addition to the hefty support still being given by the SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers, as well as the Teamsters labor union and individual donors. Simons, who is also the president of Renaissance Technologies, donated $150,000 to Democratic groups in 2010, and his largest single donation before this cycle was $30,400. Stephen Bing, who donated over $8 million to the DNC in 2002, has also contributed $250,000, and Fred Eychaner of Newsweb Corporation has given $800,000 to Majority PAC for the 2012 cycle. Two other well-known donors — George Soros of Soros Fund Management LLP and Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks Animation — gave $100,000 each.

Update, August 1: We updated this item to reflect campaign finance data through June 30, 2012.