A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Senate Majority PAC

Political leanings: Democratic

Spending Target: Unknown

The Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC “solely dedicated to building a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate,” its website says.

In the 2016 election cycle, the Senate Majority PAC raised over $92.8 million, the fourth most among super PACs, and the second most among liberal super PACs. The group’s largest individual contributors included Democratic mega-donors Fred Eychaner, a retired media executive who gave $12 million, and hedge fund billionaire James Simons, who gave $8 million.

J. B. Poersch, a former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee director, was named the super PAC’s president in early 2017. Its other senior advisers include co-founders Susan McCue and Rebecca Lambe, who were both political aides to former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

As a super PAC, the Senate Majority is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts provided that all donations and expenditures are reported to the Federal Election Commission. The PAC cannot make contributions to candidates, and instead devotes most of its money to attacking Republican candidates. It reported spending more than $63.5 million in independent expenditures opposing GOP candidates who ran in 2016, and $11.8 million supporting Democrats. (The FEC defines independent expenditures as spending on advertising that expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a federal candidate.)

Senate Majority is affiliated with Forward Majority, a 501(c)(4) organization that does not have to disclose its donors. Forward Majority contributed more than $600,000 to the Senate Majority PAC in 2016 and carried out voter registration efforts to help increase turnout among Democrats.

For the 2018 elections, the Senate Majority PAC will work with Priorities USA, a liberal super PAC, on digital ad campaigns. Priorities USA announced that it plans to spend $50 million on races in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In addition, Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, told the Washington Post that his PAC would partner with the Senate Majority PAC on digital campaigns in Missouri and North Dakota. Arizona is the only one of those states currently held by a Republican; the rest are held by Democrats.

As of April 30, the Senate Majority PAC had raised about $53 million, according to its May FEC filing. Eychaner ($2 million) and Simons ($1.5 million) continue to be among the PACs biggest donors. Other major donors include Paloma Partners hedge fund executive S. Donald Sussman, who has given $3.5 million; Henry Laufer, a former chief scientist and vice president of research for Renaissance Technologies, who donated $2 million; and liberal billionaire George Soros, who gave $1 million.

As of May 21, the super PAC had spent more than $12 million on independent expenditures supporting Democrats and opposing Republicans in the 2018 election cycle. Almost all of that money has been used to aid incumbent Senate Democrats in Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, West Virginia, North Dakota and Nevada.

There are 35 Senate seats up for grabs in 2018, including 24 held by Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democratic party. Democrats need a net gain of two seats in order regain control of the Senate from the Republicans, who currently hold 51 seats.