Senate races

Senate races

Obama helps Florida Sen. Nelson post big fundraising quarter

With help from the White House, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) raised close to $2 million last quarter.

President Obama and Vice President Biden both attended fundraising events last quarter for the senator, who is expected to face a stiff challenge from the GOP in 2012. With their help, Nelson's campaign coffers have swollen to between $4.5 and $5 million, according to a release.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee referred to the White House's fundraising help in its statement dismissing Nelson's quarterly numbers.

The senator's total includes the some $2 million raised in the first quarter of 2011 and the slightly more than $3 million Nelson had on hand at the start of the year.

"Word on the street among campaign consultants is that Nelson will report raising more this quarter than any other elected Democrat in the Senate, except for [Sen.] Kirsten Gillibrand [D-N.Y.], who reportedly raised $3 million," the Nelson campaign said in a statement.

Republican Senate candidate Haridopolos has yet to release his fundraising report, and some of the other potential candidates, including state lawmaker Adam Hasner, haven't filed papers yet to run.

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NM businessman announces $150K haul for Senate primary

New Mexico Senate candidate Greg Sowards (R) brought in more than $152,035 last quarter as he looks to compete in a crowded primary field.

Sowards said the money came from conservatives and Tea Party members who "are looking for a well-funded, well-organized alternative to liberal Republican Heather Wilson."

Sowards raised $2,035 from supporters in the last quarter and donated $150,000 of his own money to launch his effort. He retains that amount in cash on hand.

Sowards currently faces Wilson, a former congresswoman, and Republican Bill English in the Senate primary. Wilson announced earlier this week she raised $303,394 in the first quarter. English has yet to release his fundraising numbers.

Sowards dismissed Wilson's fundraising total.
 
"Voters rejected Heather Wilson in a primary four years ago for the same reason they will reject her this time," Sowards said in a statement. "We will wage a creative campaign that will have the strength and message necessary to win, as the candidate that stands with integrity, while defending firm constitutional principles."

Wilson had $281,965 banked at the end of the quarter. 

--Updated at 12:31 p.m. on April 15

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Missouri Sen. McCaskill raises $1 million

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) raised more than $1 million for her reelection bid in the first three months of the year despite being engulfed in scandal.

McCaskill has been dogged by questions about her failure to pay thousands of dollars in property taxes owed on a private plane. The first-term Democrat announced in March she was sending the St. Louis County Department of Revenue checks to cover some $320,000 in personal property taxes owed on her family-owned plane for 2007 to 2010. She apologized for the incident, calling it a "mistake."

McCaskill raised $1.05 million last quarter and has close to $1.8 million cash on hand, according to figures reported by The Associated Press and confirmed to The Ballot Box by a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Her report was not yet available on the Federal Election Commission website as of Tuesday evening.

McCaskill raised $134,742 in the final quarter of last year. She entered 2011 with some $900,000 banked. Her main GOP challenger, former Treasurer Sarah Steelman, has yet to release her first-quarter fundraising numbers.

McCaskill is a top target for Republicans this cycle. She won election in 2006 by a margin of fewer than 50,000 votes.

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Dewhurst may skip 2012 Senate run to make a bid for governor

A handful of Texas Republicans are already in the race for retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R-Texas) seat, but political observers have been waiting on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to join them and officially claim the frontrunner mantle.

His entry into the race was seen as all but certain and Republicans in the state have already begun to line up to run for lieutenant governor. But in a radio interview Monday, Dewhurst said he could wait until 2014 and make a run for governor.

"I need to make a decision in June whether I'm going to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012 or stay right where I am and run for governor in 2014," Dewhurst said Sunday in an interview with KXAN-TV.

Dewhurst staying out of the race would be a boon to the rest of the crowded field, which is already jockeying for early position.

If Dewhurst, who has the ability to self-fund his campaign, decides not to get in the Senate race, another candidate with deep pockets could benefit. So far, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has the early fundraising edge, hauling in $1.1 million during the first quarter and loaning his campaign another $1.6 million.  

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz also posted a strong quarter, raising more than $1 million during the first three months of the year. Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams pulled in nearly $500,000. 

- updated at 5:50 p.m.

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Florida Senate contender faces ethics complaint

Adam Hasner, a likely GOP candidate for Senate in Florida, faces an ethics complaint over his personal financial disclosure form. 

Democratic activist Diana Demarest filed the complaint, alleging that Hasner — the former state House majority leader — did not file his disclosure within 60 days of leaving office, The Palm Beach Post reported Monday. 

Hasner is not the first candidate in the GOP field who faces ethical questions: Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos was admonished by the state's upper chamber in February for inaccurately reporting his finances. 

The Florida Senate race is expected to be one of the most highly contested in the country. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), whom Republicans believe is vulnerable, could face Hasner, Haridopolos or former Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) in the general election. 

But the GOP primary is also expected to be heated. 

Hasner's campaign manager Rick Wilson accused Demarest of working on behalf of Haridopolos, according to the Post

Demarest denied the charge, saying: "I didn't like Adam Hasner when he was in the House. I certainly don't want him to be a senator."

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