Raise money or wave goodbye


There are 111 days to go before Election Day, and many members of Congress are nervous about their chances.

The most worried are likely to be those House lawmakers who, in the second quarter of the year, raised less money than their challengers. When incumbents are outraised by wannabes, you can smell anxiety in the congressional air.

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This nervous group includes at least 15 members of the lower chamber, 13 of them on the GOP side, The Hill reported on Tuesday. 

Even though most of them have more cash on hand, they have huge targets on their backs, and the person chasing them is running faster than they are. 

The Republicans are Reps. Brian Bilbray (Calif.), Dan Lungren (Calif.), Vern Buchanan (Fla.), David Rivera (Fla.), Bill Young (Fla.), Judy Biggert (Ill.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.), Joe Walsh (Ill.), Larry BucshonLarry BucshonA dangerous experiment Medicare changes fiercely resisted Conservative group launches ads against Obama Medicare 'experiment' MORE (Ind.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.), Charlie Bass (N.H.), Leonard Lance (N.J.) and Jon Runyan (N.J.).

If Democrats are going to recapture the House this fall, most of these members will have to lose, especially the lawmakers from Illinois and California. 

The Democrats who were outraised were Reps. Jerry McNerney (Calif.) and John Tierney (Mass.).

McNerney has been targeted before and survived. Tierney is in a Dem-friendly district, but has had to answer ethical questions regarding his family.

House and Senate incumbents are usually favored to win any election. But few can afford complacency, as recent cycles have amply demonstrated. 

The blue electoral waves in 2006 and 2008, and red tidal wave in 2010, swept incumbents rudely into oblivion. And what about 2012? At this point, no obvious partisan wave can be seen building on the horizon.

But this could be a broad, bipartisan, anti-incumbent election like that of 1992, according to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who was then a senior aide at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Congressional approval ratings are low, unemployment is high and polls show a dissatisfaction with both parties.

Since 2006, voters have been angry and impatient. They have punished the powers that be, and there is no reason to suppose that this trend will stop short of Nov. 6.

The Campaign for Primary Accountability is a well-funded organization that has targeted members in primaries and has attracted attention from members on both sides of the aisle.

Even though it does not invest in general-election races, it has helped defeat incumbents and/or drained their campaign accounts. 

Members have long bemoaned raising money for their reelection bids, but they would be wise to spend the summer dialing for dollars. Many of them will need the resources this fall.

This editorial was updated and corrected on July 18 at 12:10 p.m.