Some House incumbents falling behind in fundraising

Nearly two dozen House incumbents were outraised by their opponents and another dozen candidates established themselves as early front-runners for open seats late last week as fourth-quarter financial reports were released.

Among the members on the short end of the fundraising battle in October, November and December were Republican Reps. Don Young (Alaska), Sam Graves (Mo.) and Dave Reichert (Wash.), as well as four vulnerable Democratic freshmen.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Democratic freshmen overall continued to raise strong amounts of money, with 20 of them cracking $1 million raised for the year. All of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) Frontliners had over $500,000 cash on hand.

Some GOP challengers sent messages with their reports, though, and Democratic freshman Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Nick Lampson (Texas) and Steve Kagen (Wis.) all saw their fundraising fall behind the paces of their likely foes.

All of the freshmen maintained cash-on-hand advantages, but some of them saw those edges reduced for the first time.

Four of Lampson’s prospective GOP opponents raised more than his $120,000 — former Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs, former Senate aide Pete Olson, former Pasadena Mayor John Manlove and state Rep. Robert Talton.

Lampson’s seat is one of the most imperiled in the country. He raised one of the largest sums of any challenger in the 2006 cycle, more than $3.5 million.

Carney was outraised $390,000 to $230,000 by one of his potential GOP opponents, businessman Dan Meuser, who loaned himself another $290,000.

Meuser also overtook his primary opponent, businessman Chris Hackett, who raised just $70,000 and loaned $150,000. Both have about $400,000 cash on hand to Carney’s $760,000.

Republican John Gard narrowly edged Kagen, while former Rep. Jeb Bradley (R) topped Shea-Porter.

“After finishing last year on a high note with two special election wins, Republicans are growing increasingly energized,” said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “With the election year upon us, we are confident that this committee and our candidates will continue to prove that we will have the necessary resources to compete and win in the fall.”

But while a few GOP challengers asserted themselves in top-targeted races, several Republican incumbents fell behind in fundraising and even cash on hand.

Young raised just $40,000 and spent more than $400,000 in the quarter on legal fees (he is under federal investigation for his ties to the Veco Corporation), while Democrat Ethan Berkowitz raised $120,000. The Hill reported last week that Young recently opened a legal defense fund.

The longtime congressman still has almost $1 million in cash, but it is dissipating fast due to more than $800,000 in legal fees in 2007.

Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes (D) raised $340,000 to Graves’s $200,000, and she is close to matching his $870,000 war chest as well. Democrat Darcy Burner, meanwhile, led Reichert in both fundraising and cash, with $610,000 on hand to Reichert’s $460,000.{mospagebreak}

Reps. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), Bill Sali (R-Idaho), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.) and Virgil Goode (R-Va.) were all outraised by $100,000 or more.

Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) was also outraised by Democrat Jim Himes and now faces a slight cash disadvantage.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Across the country, the American people are excited and energized by the Democrats’ message of change,” DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell said. “As we enter 2008, our candidates are beginning to build a strong foundation. However, with right-wing groups like Freedom’s Watch out there, we cannot take anything for granted.”

With many incumbents announcing their retirements in the late third and fourth quarters, the fundraising reports also served as early indicators of who will raise big money for the open seats they leave behind.

Businessman David Landrum (R) took an early lead on the GOP field for Rep. Chip Pickering’s (R-Miss.) seat, with $320,000 raised and a $200,000 self loan; state Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D) has a huge early advantage on Republican New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann (R) for Rep. Jerry Weller’s (R-Ill.) seat with $430,000 raised; and Democrat Chellie Pingree raised about three times as much as any opponent in the field for Senate candidate Rep. Tom Allen’s (D-Maine) seat, with $300,000.

Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman (R) and businessman Wil Armstrong (R) both raised about $200,000 for Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R) seat.

In Minnesota, state Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) led the field for Rep. Jim Ramstad’s (R) seat, with $390,000 raised in the fourth quarter. A strong quarter from Iraq veteran Ashwin Madia, with $160,000 raised, suggests state Sen. Terri Bonoff ($220,000 raised) could have a tough Democratic primary. Democratic Edina Mayor Jim Hovland also raised $80,000.

The fourth quarter continued to show that Republicans haven’t recruited strong fundraisers against some top-targeted Democratic freshmen. No GOP candidate raised even $60,000 against freshman Reps. Joe Courtney (Conn.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Tim Walz (Minn.), Michael Arcuri (N.Y.), John Hall (N.Y.) and Zack Space (Ohio). Others, including Reps. Paul Hodes (N.H.), Joe Sestak (Pa.) and Patrick Murphy (Pa.) received their first major opponents after the fundraising quarter concluded.

Several touted GOP challengers, including state Sen. David Cappiello and businessmen Steve Greenberg and Mike Erickson, turned in modest reports.

Cappiello, with $130,000 raised, and Greenberg, with just $60,000 on hand as of mid-January, both would face Democrats with more than $1 million on hand — Reps. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Melissa Bean (Ill.).

Erickson, who self-funded a run against Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.) in 2006, has been trying to raise more money for another try, but he pulled in just $70,000 in the fourth quarter.

Reps. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Paul Broun (R-Ga.) both stepped up their fundraising with their opponents already raising big money.

Shadegg had his biggest quarter ever, with nearly $500,000 raised for his potentially tough race against Democrat Bob Lord.

Broun upped his fundraising to $210,000 but continued to cede ground to primary challenger and state Rep. Barry Fleming, who raised $290,000 and has a $350,000 advantage in cash on hand.

Some of the top fundraisers for the quarter were: Shadegg, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) with $500,000, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) with $460,000, Bean with $450,000, Halvorson and state Sen. Andy Harris (R), who is challenging Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) in a primary next week, with $560,000.

 The latter four all included several weeks in January in their reports due to their states’ February primaries.