By Reid Wilson - 10/04/09 12:06 PM EDT
Third quarter fundraising reports are due Oct. 15th and, since September is considered the traditional time for a campaign kickoff, officials from both parties will ask their candidates to show them the money.
Party officials often use fundraising totals to gauge how much or how little to support a candidate.
Here are eight campaigns in which the candidates have the most to win or lose when their numbers are revealed:
Kentucky Senate -- Three of the four candidates find themselves in need of strong quarters. After a well-publicized incident in early August when he used a swear word at a church-sponsored picnic, Attorney General Jack Conway (D) needs to prove that he didn't hit a fundraising slump.
Conversely, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D), who made political hay of Conway's crass language, needs to convince donors that he can take advantage of Conway's slip-up. Mongiardo's campaign has already admitted it will not raise as much as Conway this quarter, but staying competitive would help convince national Democrats that Mongiardo could give the eventual Republican nominee a run for his money.
On the GOP side, the pressure is all on Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R). Physician Rand Paul (R) has successfully tapped into the internet fundraising base his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), inspired, meaning the younger Paul will have the resources to be a serious candidate. Grayson will need a strong quarter to prove he would be able to replenish his coffers for a general election after what is shaping up to be an expensive primary.
South Carolina 02 -- Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) became a household name in September when he shouted at President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress. His opponent, Iraq war veteran Rob Miller (D), quickly raised more than $1.5 million, while Wilson reported over $2 million raised in the wake of the incident.
Miller's challenge is to keep the momentum going in order to improve on the 46 percent of the vote he earned in 2008. Wilson must keep pace with his challenger, but he also faces the opportunity to become a fundraising superstar for the national GOP. On Friday, he headlined a fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in Hilton Head.
New Hampshire Senate -- Rep. Paul Hodes (D) has not floored Democrats with his fundraising prowess so far, and as polls suggest he trails his most likely opponent, he will need to step up the pace to keep the Granite State at the top of Democratic target lists for next year.
Meanwhile, the fundraising reports will be the first yard stick by which to measure former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte's (R) campaign. A big report could scare off some of the myriad challengers thinking of running against her, while a subpar total could embolden them. A bloody Republican primary fought along ideological lines can only hurt GOP chances of keeping retiring Sen. Judd Gregg's (R) seat.
Ohio Senate -- Ex-Rep. Rob Portman (R) has already proven his fundraising chops while Democrats are still struggling with a potential primary. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) is the frontrunner, and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) had a disappointing second quarter.
The pressure is all on Brunner. A good fundraising quarter will keep her in the race, while a weak three months will enhance Democratic calls that she step aside and back Fisher. All Fisher has to do, as he did over the previous three months, is outraise Brunner.
Pennsylvania Senate -- With the help of Obama, Sen. Arlen Specter (D) should have an excellent quarter. A fundraiser in Philadelphia netted north of $2 million, split between Specter and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and that will add to Specter's already considerable campaign balance sheet.
It will be up to Rep. Joe Sestak (D) and former Rep. Pat Toomey (R), Specter's primary and general election opponents, respectively, to keep up.
New Hampshire 01 -- Both candidates have something to prove in what will remain one of the hottest contests in the country. Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta (R) must bounce back from a weak performance during his first few months as a candidate, but local coverage of his involvement in a bar scuffle certainly won't help.
For her part, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) is taking heat from Republicans for denying that she was kicked out of an event with President George W. Bush several years ago, a stance at odds with a local police officer who says he escorted her out. Shea-Porter will be a top Republican target until she raises money at a faster clip; through the end of June, she had just $211,000 on hand, less than all but one other Frontline member.
New York 23 -- The shortened race has more national implications than either governors race this year, as Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are each playing a role. With a month to go before Election Day, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has the most to gain with a stellar report. If he is not seen as a serious candidate because of a weak fundraising performance, the race could largely revert to a contest between the two major parties.
The NRCC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) have each spent more than $100,000 on the race so far, but the amount of money Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) and attorney Bill Owens (D) raise will show just how many positive spots to expect in the next month. The lower the numbers, the more the race will be in the hands of Washington strategists, who are more likely to take shots at the other party than to build up their own candidates.
Massachusetts Senate -- With a statewide profile and a $2.1 million warchest, Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) is the early front-runner for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D) seat. CityYear co-founder Alan Khazei (D) will report raising $1.1 million, an impressive feat for a political newcomer, and venture capitalist Steve Pagliuca (D) can self-fund his campaign.
But one candidate, Rep. Michael Capuano (D), will have to show impressive results if he is to remain a top-level contender. Capuano is largely unknown around the state, according to polls, and he only has until the Dec. 9 primary to raise his profile. That will cost money, even as he positions himself as the ideological successor to Kennedy's legacy.