Senate fundraising winners and losers
© Greg Nash

The 2016 campaign cycle will likely be the most expensive in history, putting added pressure on candidates to exhibit their fundraising chops early. 

Wednesday’s deadline to file first-quarter numbers with the Federal Election Commission came and went with a flurry of releases from candidates and potential candidates boasting about their massive hauls.

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Others sought to avoid the spotlight by quietly submitting their modest numbers with little fanfare. 

Here’s a look at The Hill’s winners and losers:

WINNERS

Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanThe Memo: Justice Department veterans reeling over Sessions drama Bare-bones repeal plan gains steam in Senate Overnight Healthcare: Senate rejects repeal-only ObamaCare plan | Ads target Heller, Capito over vote | Dem says ObamaCare repeal effort moving US 'toward single-payer' MORE (R-Ohio)

Portman is one of the strongest fundraisers in Congress, and he built on that reputation with the best fundraising quarter of the cycle, banking nearly $3 million in the first quarter and growing his campaign fund to a whopping $8 million.

Portman will need it — a Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) leading in the Senate race by 9 percentage points.

Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetOvernight Finance: House votes to repeal arbitration rule | Yellen, Cohn on Trump's list for Fed chief | House passes Russia sanctions deal | GOP centrists push back on border wall funding Tax credits bring much needed relief Senate Dem: No clarity, 'little competence' behind travel ban MORE (D-Colo.) 

Bennet is a top swing-state target for Republicans going into 2016.

The former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee put up a strong showing in the first quarter, pulling in more than $2 million, making him one of only four Senate candidates to do so. 

Bennet had almost $3 million in the bank at the end of March.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

Toomey is the third member of the $2 million club to make this list.

He raised $2.1 million in the first quarter, bringing his cash on hand to a strong $7.3 million.

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who lost narrowly to Toomey in 2010 and is seeking a rematch, hasn’t released his first quarter numbers yet, but he ended the year with $1.5 million in his campaign account from his previous runs. 

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D)

Kander nearly matched incumbent Sen. Roy BluntRoy BluntGOP senator: Trump transgender ban ‘deserves more than a Twitter conversation’ Overnight Healthcare: Trump plays hardball on ObamaCare | Senators revive negotiations | CBO says repeal without replace would cost 32M insurance White House working with moderates on new Medicaid proposal MORE’s (R-Mo.) first quarter fundraising numbers in just the first six weeks of his campaign.

Kander raised $780,000 in the month and a half since launching his campaign. In a full quarter of fundraising, Blunt brought in just over $1 million.

Still, the incumbent will have a significant head start: Blunt had more than $3 million on hand at the end of March, while Kander has only what he’s raised since February.

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteOPINION: Democracy will send ISIS to the same grave as communism Kelly Ayotte joins defense contractor's board of directors Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington MORE (R-N.H.)

Ayotte could be facing one of the most competitive Senate races of 2016 if Democrats get their candidate, and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) runs.

Ayotte is off to a good start. She raised $1.2 million in the first quarter, giving her more than $3 million in cash on hand.

The Ayotte campaign sought to contrast those figures with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenLawmakers push to toughen foreign lobbying rules Families make emotional plea for diabetes research funding Congress must extend critical federal funding for type 1 diabetes research MORE’s (D-N.H.) first quarter haul in 2013, when she raised $1.2 million but only had $1.4 million in the bank on her way to reelection last cycle. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonBare-bones repeal plan gains steam in Senate Trump, electronics manufacturer announce new Wisconsin plant Live coverage: Senate debates repealing ObamaCare MORE (R-Wis.)

Johnson is among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection, running during a presidential year in a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984.

He landed his biggest fundraising haul in the first quarter, taking in $1.3 million and boosting his cash on hand to $1.5 million.

In 2010, Johnson defeated former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) by 5 percentage points in a Republican wave election with no presidential candidates at the top of the ticket, but he had help from his own pockets. 



Feingold is widely expected to seek a rematch in 2016, and a Marquette University poll this week showed him with a massive 16-percentage-point edge over the incumbent. 

LOSERS

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D)

Strickland might be ahead of Portman in one early poll, but there are questions about whether he will be able to keep up in the money race. 

While the establishment-backed Democrat didn’t have a full quarter of fundraising, beginning in mid-February, shortly before announcing his candidacy, he pulled in just under $700,000.

That discrepancy is even starker considering Strickland was outraised by his young Democratic primary challenger, 30-year-old Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who took in more than $750,000 in the first quarter.

Combined, the two Democrats fell short of Portman’s total by about $1.5 million.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.)

Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards are already battling it out for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiGore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere Bipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day MORE (D-Md.).

Edwards is a favorite of progressives, and she threw red meat to her liberal supporters this month, when she announced she wouldn’t take any campaign cash from Wall Street.

It’s a decision she might regret. Edwards raised only $335,000 in the first quarter and trails Van Hollen badly. She’ll need to tap into her network of grassroots liberals if she intends to compete in the long haul.

Van Hollen raised more than $1.1 million in the first quarter, with more than $1 million of that coming in the weeks since his March 4 announcement.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.)

No Republicans have announced that they intend to challenge Bennet for Senate yet, but Coffman is considering a run and is believed by many to be the GOP’s strongest potential candidate.

Coffman is a proven fundraiser, but he put up a dud of a first quarter in 2015, bringing in just over $300,000 and ending with about that much in the bank. 

Still, there’s plenty of time. Coffman raised $4.5 million last cycle just to protect his competitive House seat in liberal Denver.

Rep. Matt SalmonMatt SalmonComey fallout weighs on the GOP Conservative activists want action from Trump Senators fear fallout of nuclear option MORE (R-Ariz.)

Conservative groups are itching for a primary fight with Sen. John McCainJohn McCainCanada responds to transgender ban: All are welcome to join Canadian forces Dems don’t want to help GOP improve repeal bill GOP senator: Trump transgender ban ‘deserves more than a Twitter conversation’ MORE (R-Ariz.) and are pushing Salmon to challenge him.

But McCain has no intention of going quietly into the night — he raised $1.6 million in the first quarter, bringing his cash on hand total to $3.6 million at the end of March.

While Salmon could likely count on help from national conservative groups if he entered the race, he raised only $70,000 in the first quarter, bringing his total cash on hand to $450,000.