By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats beat Republicans in the race for campaign dollars during May, as the president stepped up fundraising ahead of the 2012 contest for the White House.
The Democratic National Committee pulled in $10.5 million, compared with $6.2 million raised by the Republican National Committee, according to monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
The 2012 election may be the priciest ever, with Obama potentially topping $1 billion in campaign contributions, up from $750 million raised for his successful 2008 bid. Recent court decisions are likely to unleash billions more in cash from outside interest groups.
Democratic figures include a $6.5 million transfer from the Obama Victory Fund.
The figures provide a benchmark for future fundraising, though most of the national committee funds for 2012 will likely be raised next year, according to Michael Malbin, executive director of George Washington University's Campaign Finance Institute.
Republicans are shoring up their finances after former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spent little time raising money and alienated some donors with a series of gaffes. He left the job in January after losing a party election.
Democrats had less debt in May, at $13.5 million, compared with $18.5 million for the RNC.
Republicans are chipping away at the approximately of $24 million in debt it held when Steele left the RNC.
The Democrats had about $16.5 million in cash on hand at the end of May, while Republicans had nearly $6 million in cash on hand, according to filings.
Presidential candidate campaign reports for the second quarter are due at the end of June, and will provide the first head-to-head comparisons of the hopefuls thus far.
(Additional reporting by Eric Johnson in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)