Top of the ballot: Giannoulias family bank loaned $20M to felons

Halter’s total is likely to be one of the biggest stories of the fundraising quarter, for which reports are due April 15. But while raising that much money in so little time is impressive, Halter needed to ramp up fast after getting in the race so late.

Lincoln will likely still be able to outspend Halter thanks to her $4 million cash on hand. That is, unless he can keep up his pace before their May 18 primary (which seems unlikely). But if the first quarter fundraising reports show anything, it’s that the biggest primary challenge in the country might have been the last one to emerge.

While former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) will have some money and their own paths to victory against incumbents, Halter is looking like the biggest threat.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidMcConnell bashes Reid’s ‘inappropriate’ rhetoric Hillary's ObamaCare problem Sanders tests Wasserman Schultz MORE (D-Nev.) raised more than $1.5 million for his reelection race in the first quarter, which sounds like a lot. But this is from a man who had help from President Obama in February and has consistently raised at least $2 million per quarter. He has said he plans to spend $25 million on his reelection race.

Reid fell off both of those paces with the total he announced Thursday, but he is still far ahead of his potential GOP opponents. Former state GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden raised $500,000 and self-funded that amount as well, while businessman Danny Tarkanian said he raised more than the $330,000 he pulled in last quarter.

In other fundraising numbers released this week:

-Hayworth’s campaign said he raised $1 million, which is less than half Sen. John McCainJohn McCainGOP senators split over Cruz's aid on campaign trail Why a power grid attack is a nightmare scenario Senate fight brews over Afghan visas MORE’s (R-Ariz.) previously reported $2.2 million.
-Sen. Richard BurrRichard BurrThe Trail 2016: Hell breaks loose Burr, Ross in statistical dead heat in NC Senate race Senate panel advances spy policy bill, after House approves its own version MORE (R-N.C.) raised $1.4 million and had $5.3 million in the bank as Democrats sort out who in their primary will face him.
-Former state Rep. Denny HeckDenny HeckHeck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (D) raised $200,000 and self-funded $150,000 and has $530,000 on hand for the race for Rep. Brian Baird’s (D-Wash.) open seat.
-Businessman Bruce O’Donoghue emerged as the big-money candidate the GOP hoped he would be, raising more than $300,000 for the race to face Rep. Alan GraysonAlan GraysonThe Trail 2016: Biting the hand that feeds him The Hill's 12:30 Report Grayson marries candidate seeking to replace him MORE (D-Fla.).

Obama vs. Romney

President Obama slipped this morning and accidentally referred to Mitt Romney as the Republican “nominee” for president. In the interview with CBS' "Early Show," Obama was taking a jab at Romney's criticism of the healthcare plan when he called the former governor of Massachusetts as "current Republican nominee Mitt Romney."

He’s probably thinking that same thing a lot of people are thinking – that this is the former Massachusetts governor’s race to lose.

One has to wonder if it wasn’t a slip at all, though. Maybe Obama has interest in tarring Romney as the establishment GOP candidate so early in the process. With such an anti-establishment mood in the country, that wouldn’t necessarily bode well for Romney.

On the other hand, Obama might have just misspoken.

Other updates:

-Dr. Kevin Weiland said House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) both personally urged him to drop his primary challenge to Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.). He said he later personally negotiated with Herseth Sandlin, and she assured him she would not vote for a repeal of the healthcare reform bill.

-Former Rhode Island state Rep. Victor Moffit joined the GOP primary for governor, and he will face John Robitaille, a former aide to Gov. Donald Carcieri (R). Republicans have a tough road ahead in the race, especially with a former GOP senator, Lincoln Chafee, leading the pack as an independent.

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