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RNC fundraising pace under Priebus lags Steele's

The Republican National Committee yesterday filed its report with the Federal Election Commission, showing that it raised $6.8 million in the month of June.

The bad news for the RNC under Chairman Reince Priebus: That means its 2nd quarter haul (about $19 million) is less than what Michael Steele's RNC raked in the 2nd quarter of 2009 ($20.5 million). In addition, the Priebus-led RNC has brought in more than $37 million for the first half of the year, versus the Steele-led haul of $40 million-plus in the first half of 2009.

Also by comparison, the Democratic National Committee -- with President Obama's help -- raised nearly $60 million for the first half of 2011.

The good news for the RNC: It says it's reduced its spending (which was always the Steele administration's biggest problem); it's bringing back thick-walleted GOP donors; and it's lowering the debt it inherited from Steele. But that debt is still $17.5 million.

"We're happy with our fundraising," an RNC official tells First Read. "People are starting to come back to the party, which is a huge step in the right direction."

"We've cut staff and overheard by 30% from this time in 2009," the official adds. "We're making progress every month and feel good about where we are and where we are headed."

But Republican strategist Doug Heye, who served as Steele's top communications aide, makes this larger point about the money chase: "In a bad economy, in a post-Citizens United world, and without a [Republican] president, it's hard to raise money."

*** UPDATE *** Another RNC official calls to note that it's raised more money from major GOP donors in the first six months of 2011 than Steele did during his entire two years as chair. Moreover, the official explains that its lower costs and overhead is the most important takeaway from its financial reports. "You get judged by what you're putting in the bank."