McConnell raises $1.8 million in first quarter toward 2014 re-election bid

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) raised $1.8 million during the first quarter of the year and has about $8.6 million cash on hand for his reelection bid, a daunting sum for any potential challenger to match.

Campaign manager Jesse Benton confirmed to The Hill the sum, first reported by the Associated Press, which McConnell's campaign will post in its quarterly filing this month.

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Though McConnell is considered by Democrats to be one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the nation, due to recent polling that shows him unpopular in his state and nationwide, the millions in his campaign coffers will make him a tough — and expensive — target. He spent more than $20 million in his 2008 bid, and has said he's willing to spend more than that this time around to defend the seat.

Democrats have yet to front a candidate; a number of potential contenders, including actress Ashley Judd, have all ruled out a bid. Democrats are focusing on Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as the most likely contender at this point, but she hasn't yet made up her mind.

Danny Briscoe, a Kentucky Democratic strategist, told the AP that McConnell's lack of a challenger is giving him an open field in terms of fundraising.

"Without an opponent, nobody else is raising money. He's got the whole universe to himself," he said.

But Democrats believe they have a chance to flip the seat, and any credible Democrat who runs is likely to draw millions from outside groups nationwide.