The first fundraising quarter of 2014 is in the books, with many campaigns boosting their hauls from previous quarters. Here are five early takeaways from the available numbers.
Republicans in open-seat races post big numbers
Republicans in competitive open-seat races are off to strong fundraising starts, increasing the GOP’s prospects of keeping those seats.
Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock (R), a longtime Beltway power player, raised a whopping $750,000 in her first quarter running for retiring Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R-Va.) seat, much more than any of her primary opponents.
Others performed strongly as well. Former California state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) raised $400,000 for his bid to replace retiring Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), while Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello (R), running for retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach’s (R-Pa.) seat, raised just shy of $350,000.
Those numbers bode well for House Republicans, whose biggest worry this election cycle is holding onto the dozen or so open seats they’re defending.
Tea Party candidates struggling for funds
Tea Party challengers continued to struggle with fundraising this quarter, the latest indication conservatives may be thwarted up and down the ballot this year.
Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr (R), challenging Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), brought in $255,000 to Alexander’s $614,000. In Idaho’s 2nd District, where Rep. Mike Simpson is facing a primary challenge from attorney Bryan Smith, Simpson brought in $417,000 to $137,000 for Smith.
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) primary challenger, businessman Matt Bevin, posted his best fundraising quarter yet at $1.1 million, but still raised less than half as much as McConnell and didn’t release his cash-on-hand numbers, which may indicate he’s bleeding funds.
Kansas radiologist Milton Wolf (R) raised only $300,000 in the quarter, though his opponent, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), actually slowed his fundraising pace to $500,000 and spent more than he raised.
Conservatives have the highest hopes for Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, challenging Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP primary there. But he actually slowed his fundraising pace, bringing in about $475,000 this past quarter, down nearly $100,000 from last three months of 2013, while
Cochran rebounded from his disappointing fourth-quarter haul and raised $1.7 million.
Weak fundraisers rebound
A few incumbents who’d gotten off to weak starts this fundraising cycle are finally ramping up.
Cochran’s $1.7 million is a huge increase from the $340,000 he raised last quarter, as he debated whether to seek reelection.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) raised $650,000, more than doubling what he’d raised in the previous three months and showing he might be shaking off the rust enough to defeat fellow Democrat Ro Khanna.
Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) topped $500,000, nearly doubling his previous quarter. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is favored in her reelection battle, raised almost $900,000, nearly tripling her past quarter after her Democratic challenger outraised her in the final three months of 2013.
Democratic Senate challengers doing well
Democratic Senate challengers are bringing in big dollars that prove their party’s high hopes may not be entirely unfounded.
Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn raised $2.4 million, four times as much as any of her Republican opponents who have reported their totals.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes again outraised Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), bringing in $2.7 million to his $2.4 million, while West Virginia Democrat Natalie Tennant raised $794,000, lagging just behind GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s $817,000.
Not all are winners, though. Recently appointed Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) lagged his Republican challenger in fundraising even with the benefit of incumbency, bringing in less than $1 million with $700,000 cash on hand.
South Dakota Democratic candidate Rick Weiland, who’s running an underdog bid to defend the seat against top GOP recruit Mike Rounds, hasn’t yet released his fundraising numbers, an indication they might not be the strongest. Former Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.), running for Cochran’s seat and hoping Cochran loses his primary fight, will have just a month of fundraising to report.
Some House freshmen flex fundraising muscle
A number of freshmen in both parties facing tough reelections posted big fundraising hauls.
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) raised more than $430,000, bringing his cash on hand to more than $1.5 million. Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) raised $460,000. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) also posted a strong figure, bringing in $600,000 since the new year.
Others posted big numbers but their challengers kept pace, a sign of expensive races to come.
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) topped $550,000 and has $1.3 million in the bank, while Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) raised more than $450,000 and has almost $1.5 million cash on hand, though both of their opponents raised nearly as much during the same period.
A number of House freshmen had yet to file their numbers as of press time, however. There may be some duds on the way.
—This piece was corrected to remove Monte Shaw, who raised less than initially reported by The Hill.