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California Democrats are starting 2012 with an $8.7 million fundraising advantage and 13-point voter registration edge over their rivals in the Republican Party.

The cash edge was reported in year-end campaign finance filings released Tuesday. The California Democratic State Central Committee ended 2011 with $9.3 million in the bank, after raising $2.77 million in contributions in the final three months of the year. The California Republican Party came close to matching Democrats in contributions, raising nearly $2.34 million, but reported having just shy of $439,000 cash on hand due to heavy spending on an effort to repeal the new state Senate maps via a referendum drive.

The campaign cash numbers were reported on the same day as Secretary of State Debra Bowen released updated voter registration figures showing that Democrats continue to hold a 13-point lead statewide, 43.63 percent to 30.36 percent. Both parties saw slight declines in registration in the last year, while the percentage of voters registered as decline-to-state rose to an all-time high of 21.24 percent.

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro downplayed the registration numbers in a statement issued by the party, saying that Californians continue to show their support for the party by voting for fiscally conservative measures on the ballot. He said that he expects the party to make gains in closing the registration gap ahead of the 2012 election.

Democrats didn't seem too worried about that prospect.

"With these kind of numbers, I think California Democrats can really start to get used to the Del Beccaro era," CDP spokesman Tenoch Flores quipped.



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