Brunner has just $80k for stretch run of Ohio Senate primary

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is going to have to win the Democratic nomination without TV.

Brunner's first-quarter FEC totals are in, and she had less than $80,000 cash on hand as of March 31. Meanwhile, her Democratic Senate primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, had $1.8 million on hand with about a month to go in their May 4 primary.

Brunner, who has been unable to raise serious money at any point in her campaign, pulled together about $144,000 for the quarter.

The totals mean that, if Brunner is to somehow pull an upset in the race, it's going to have be a total grassroots-oriented upset. She will not be able to go up with any sort of sustained media buy, and Fisher will be able to drown out her messaging in the closing weeks if he wants to.

Recent polling has shown Brunner is still within single digits of Fisher, but that was before Fisher went up with his own TV ads in recent days.

The winner gets former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in the general election. Sen. George Voinovitch (R-Ohio) is retiring.


Anti-BCS group upset with bowl's donation to Hayworth

A major college football bowl game's donation to a political candidate is an improper use of its money, a group said Friday.

The Fiesta Bowl, one of four major Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games, gave former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) $2,000 to help retire his legal debt in advance of his primary challenge of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

PlayoffPAC, a political group that wants a playoff system to replace the BCS, said Friday that the contribution should spark an investigation into the bowl's political activity.

{mosads}"This news is just the latest in a line of questionable activities by the BCS's Fiesta Bowl," PlayoffPAC spokesman Matt Martinez said in an e-mail. " In the past few months, it's been reported that the Fiesta Bowl has spent $4 million on boondoggles and may also be illegally reimbursing employees’ political contributions.  It's time for public officials to examine this taxpayer-subsidized entity's books and scrutinize them for other potential tax and campaign finance violations."

The group is highlighting the contribution, which was made under the name "Arizona Sports Foundation," in an effort to revive a probe into the bowl game. 

College football's bowl system came between the cross hairs of some members of Congress last year who want it replaced with a playoff system. The BCS has pushed back against government efforts to change the system saying it is outside their purview.

PlayoffPAC filed a complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State on the eve of the Fiesta Bowl in December, saying that some of their political activities violate Arizona and federal campaign finance law that bans the funneling of corporate campaign contributions through individuals.

The group said it is going to follow up on the complaint Monday.

A report in the Arizona Republic said that bowl officials encouraged several Fiesta Bowl employees to write checks to politicians friendly to the bowl and that the bowl reimbursed them.

The Republic also reported that McCain received funds from the bowl in the past. 

The group says there is no indication that Hayworth or McCain did anything wrong by accepting the money.

An investigator hired by the bowl cleared it of any wrongdoing in December but Playoff PAC has said that their inquiry is insufficient. 

"I don't know of any time in my employment that I have gone to someone and asked them to make a contribution and said, 'We will reimburse you,'" Fiesta Bowl President and CEO John Junker said.


Tiahrt narrowly outraises Moran in Kansas Senate race

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) outraised Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) for the first time in their nearly 15-month-old Senate race in the first quarter.

Tiahrt raised $375,000, compared to Moran's $346,000. But Moran maintains a $3.5 million-to-$1.5 million edge in cash on hand.

It is the first quarter since the race began that Tiahrt has been able to bank a significant amount of money, going from $1.3 million cash on hand to $1.5 million. Moran, meanwhile, began running ads and spending more heavily on their Aug. 3 primary; his cash dropped from $3.7 million to $3.5 million.

The winner will be a heavy favorite in November for Sen. Sam Brownback's (R-Kan.) seat. Brownback is running for governor.


McMahon up to $14M of self-funding in Conn. Senate race

Linda McMahon is well on her way to spending $30-50 million on the Connecticut Senate race.

The Republican former WWE CEO's campaign announced Thursday that she self-funded another $8 million in the first quarter, bringing her total out-of-pocket expenses to $14 million. She raised $37,000 and had $4.3 million cash on hand for her GOP primary bid in the race to replace retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

McMahon has previously said she could spend $30 or $50 million on the race.

The likely Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, previously announced that he raised $1.9 million and banked $1.6 million in his first quarter as a candidate. Blumenthal took over for Dodd when Dodd announce he would not seek reelection earlier this year.

McMahon's GOP primary opponents, former Rep. Rob Simmons and investment banker Peter Schiff, have yet to announce their first-quarter totals.

UPDATE 2:15 p.m.: Simmons's campaign says (buried in a memo) that it raised $550,000 and has $1.4 million in the bank. It's Simmons's worst full quarter of the cycle, and his campaign blames the lower profile the race has taken on since Dodd's retirement.


Carnahan ramps up fundraising in Missouri Senate race, outraises Blunt $1.5M to $1.3M

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) kicked her fundraising operation into high gear in the first quarter, raising $1.5 million for her Senate campaign.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), meanwhile, announced via Facebook that he raised $1.3 million. It is the first time since the first quarter of 2009 in which Carnahan has outraised Blunt over a three-month period.

Carnahan announced the total, which is her best since launching her campaign, in an e-mail to supporters. Her campaign separately told The Hill that it raised its cash on hand from $2.1 million to $2.8 million.

"I'm so pleased to let you know that we're filing our quarterly fundraising report today and we finished strong -- in fact, we raised nearly $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2010!" The most we have ever raised in a single quarter to date," she wrote. "What a terrific grassroots team effort. I can't tell you how humbled and honored I am to have your support and support from all across Missouri, in every county."

Blunt maintains a $3.5 million to $2.8 million advantage in cash on hand. Blunt outraised Carnahan handily last quarter, pulling in $1.3 million compared to $877,000 for the secretary of state.

Carnahan is likely to face Blunt in the general election to replace retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.).

Updated at 1:18 p.m.: The initial totals for last quarter failed to include money raised for a joint fundraising committee.


Sen. Bennett's GOP opponents banking money

Utah attorney Mike Lee (R) raised $115,000 and self-funded $20,000 in the first quarter for his primary campaign against Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), his campaign told The Hill on Wednesday.

Lee, who got in the race at the start of the first quarter and is seen by insiders as an attractive alternative to Bennett, had $85,000 in the bank at the end of March.

Lee is one of several Republicans hoping to unseat Bennett at the state GOP convention on May 8. If Bennett survives the convention with at least 40 percent of the vote, he and another candidate will go to a June primary.

Another Republican running against Bennett, former congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater, raised $20,000 in the first quarter. But thanks to an additional $30,000 loan (he has now self-funded $300,000 total), he had $258,000 in the bank.

Bennett, activist Cherilyn Eagar and former Rep. Merrill Cook (R-Utah) have yet to announce their totals.


Self-funder goes big in N.H. GOP Senate primary

Businessman Bill Binnie plugged another $1.7 million of his own money into the New Hampshire GOP Senate primary in the first quarter.

The money brings his total investment in the race to nearly $3 million and serves notice that the frontrunner Republican, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, will almost surely be outspent in the primary.

Binnie's campaign also raised $400,000 for the quarter, bringing its total receipts to $2.1 million for the quarter and $3.7 million overall.

Ayotte raised about $1.2 million through the end of the year. She has not released first-quarter totals.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) has raised close to $3 million for the race, including $655,000 in the first quarter.


Hodes raised $665K to start 2010

Rep. Paul Hodes's (D-N.H.) Senate campaign has seen its fundraising dip slightly from the last quarter of 2009, but it still pulled in a decent $665,000 in the first quarter of 2010.

Hodes's campaign said it entered this month with $1.7 million in the bank.

He has been raising money stride-for-stride with GOP favorite and former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who has yet to announce her first-quarter totals.

Ayotte faces a primary, though, and a pair of self-funders have already banked $1 million for the race. Businessman Bill Binnie raised $400,000 in the first quarter and previously self-funded more than $1 million, while businessman Jim Bender loaned his campaign $400,000 last quarter, raised $100,000 and had $1 million cash on hand.


Lincoln raised $1.3M in first quarter, spent $2M

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) wasn't outraised in the first quarter by as much as previously thought, but she did spend heavily.

Lincoln's campaign just came out with some more specific numbers. It turns out she raised more than $1.3 million (versus the "more than $1 million" previously reported) and has $4.3 million on hand. Lincoln's cash on hand dropped by about $700,000, meaning she spent heavily -- about $2 million -- defending herself in the primary.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), who is challenging Lincoln in a primary, raised $2 million in the first quarter. He raised that amount in a shorter time period, though, having entered the race late in the quarter.

Republican frontrunners Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and state Sen. Gilbert Baker have yet to announce their first quarter totals.


Giannoulias raised $1.2 million in first quarter, trails Kirk

Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) turned in his best fundraising quarter of the cycle so far, but he still raised about $1 million less than GOP opponent Mark Kirk in the Illinois Senate race.

Giannoulias's campaign just announced it raised $1.2 million in the first quarter in an e-mail to supporters. It's about twice what he raised last quarter, but it pales in comparison to Kirk's $2.2 million first quarter, which the congressman announced last week.

Kirk, who faced a less serious primary challenge, is also set to be in much better financial position for the general election, as he announced $3 million cash on hand. Giannoulias's campaign has not announced a cash on hand figure, but it was burning through serious cash to make it through a primary with former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman in February, and it had less than $1 million on hand at the end of the year.

Giannoulias beat Hoffman 39-34. Since then, the Democratic nominee has dealt with a series of problems stemming from his family bank, which is on the brink of failure and, according to the Chicago Tribune, lent $20 million to a pair of convicted felons.