Bunning, Mongiardo trail competitors in Kentucky

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D), aiming for a rematch of their epic 2004 battle, are trailing primary rivals in fundraising, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

That isn't good news for Bunning, who has felt pressure all year to drop his bid for a third term. Bunning raised $302,446 in the second quarter, leaving him $595,571 in the bank.

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Bunning's haul is about half that of Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R), who filed an exploratory committee last quarter. In the past three months, Grayson has pulled in $603,000, and his cash on hand is barely short of Bunning's, at $572,103.

Bunning's position has been tenuous at best. After fending off Mongiardo by just 23,000 votes five years ago, Bunning has openly feuded with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas), both of whom questioned Bunning's commitment to running again.

Bunning has insisted he will run again, questioning his fellow Republicans' hearing. Meanwhile, he attacked McConnell — once his close ally — for sending out a fundraising letter for McConnell's own campaign that raised only a token amount of money.

On the Democratic side, Mongiardo's $302,993 haul adds to a strong first six weeks, giving him a total of $732,000 raised. But Mongiardo's burn rate is surprisingly high; he spent more than $200,000 to retain $485,886.

Mongiardo, who entered the race in late February, trails Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D) in financial resources. Conway jumped in the race in April and started with a strong $1.3 million quarter.

Like his 2004 rival, Mongiardo has taken steps to cast himself as an outsider fighting against his own party in Washington. Mongiardo announced his opposition to a cap-and-trade measure sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) that passed narrowly last month, and he has attacked Conway when Conway said he would support the bill with certain changes.

Privately, national Democrats favor Conway, though early polls have shown Mongiardo leading on the strength of his statewide name recognition.