Impending fundraising deadline brings flurry of last-minute appeals

Candidates are pulling out all the stops before Friday’s third-quarter fundraising deadlines: emailing heartfelt pleas, invoking the troubled economy (while asking for cash) and dispatching their spouses as fundraisers-in-chief.

The November 2012 elections are more than a year out, but this campaign cycle has been characterized by an aggressively early start — so aggressive that several contenders are downplaying expectations for this quarter.

But in the meantime, the pleas will continue until midnight Friday, with reports due to the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 15.

The dynamics differ among the presidential, Senate and House races. Here are some things to watch for as the fundraising quarter draws to a close:

Presidential

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Few will be surprised to hear that the 2012 presidential race is expected to be the most expensive race in history. President Obama is said to be eyeing $1 billion for his reelection campaign, a quarter million more than he raised in 2008.

He took in $86 million in the second quarter, but that hasn’t stopped a blast of email appeals.

“The staff and I are working around the clock, powered by too much coffee,” wrote Rufus Gifford, finance director for Obama’s reelection campaign, in a Thursday fundraising appeal. “It’s been way too long since we called our moms. And we’ve all had more pizza and bad takeout in the past few weeks than anyone should have in a year.”

Presidential fundraising also took on an unexpectedly spousal face this week.

Among those who made the case to donors on behalf of their better halves were first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaTrump: House Judiciary should investigate Obama Netflix deal instead of his business 2020 is not a family affair, for a change Former speechwriter says Michelle Obama came up with 'when they go low we go high' line MORE, Anita Perry (Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s wife), Ann Romney (former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s wife) and Marcus Bachmann (Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman’s husband).

“My wife continues to amaze me each day as she stands up to her critics to defend our values,” Marcus Bachmann wrote in a letter to supporters. “But I know she cannot stand alone. She needs to know you stand with her.”

The other Michelle — the one married to the current president — is holding three fundraisers Friday, and pitched campaign supporters via email Wednesday, offering a chance to dine with her husband to the winners of a drawing that cost a $3 donation to enter.

While Romney sunk millions into his first presidential campaign in 2008 during his first two quarters, he has yet to do that this time around. The Boston Globe reported Thursday that Romney will weigh in at between $11 million and $13 million for the third quarter — an impressive figure, although a notch down from the $18.2 million he pulled in during the previous quarter.

Yet more important than Romney’s figure in isolation will be how it matches up to Perry, the GOP race’s other front-runner, who is neck-and-neck with Romney in the polls. Perry was reportedly gunning for $10 million, but the Texas governor got a late start compared to the other candidates, not officially declaring his candidacy until August.

Expectations are that the rest of the candidates will each net something less than $5 million.

Senate

It’s still early in the Senate race calendar, and many of the big-name candidates didn’t enter their races until the third quarter was well under way.

But the massive amounts of money that PACs, Tea Party groups and other organizations have already raised and spent make it even more important for candidates to demonstrate their fundraising prowess early.

In Indiana, incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar (R) has been actively fundraising and had a war chest of $3.5 million at the end of June, but primary challenger Richard Mordouck was endorsed Thursday by the Tea Party Express, a group that spent big in the 2010 election to support primary candidates such as Sharron Angle in Nevada.

Florida Republicans will be watching the dollar counts in the primary to take on Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (D), because no solid front-runner has emerged in the polls among Republicans Adam Hasner, Mike McCalister, George LaMieux and Craig Miller.


Rep. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (Ariz.), the GOP front-runner in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R), emailed supporters Thursday with a link to a survey requesting their input on policy issues — and asking them to follow up their survey submission with a donation up to the $2,500 limit.

But no Senate race is likely to draw as much attention as Massachusetts, where Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs MORE has entered the Democratic primary to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R). Warren is a favorite of liberals, national Democratic groups and even Vice President Biden.

EMILY’s List, a group that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights, is raising money to support Warren, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced Thursday it had already hauled in $375,000.

Businessman Alan Khazei, one of Warren’s primary challengers, raised almost $1 million in the first quarter, but things went downhill from there. The campaign’s goal for the overall cycle tops $3 million. A Massachusetts Democratic strategist with knowledge of his campaign said Khazei was on track to meet that overall goal, but predicted Warren would report having raised around $2 million for her just-announced candidacy.

House

While it’s not yet crunch time for most House races, a special House race is in full swing in Oregon, where, on Nov. 8, voters on will pick their primary candidates to replace former Rep. David Wu, followed by a January general election.

State Sen. Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne Marie BonamiciOvernight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees House lawmakers introduce bill to help those struggling with student debt MORE (D) has already put two ads on the air and secured an EMILY’s List endorsement.

“There’s a certain urgency there. We’re operating on a different timeline there than the rest of 2012,” EMILY’s List spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said.

She added that the large number of races in which there are female candidates for 2012, combined with the perception that House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE’s (R-Ohio) leadership has had a negative effect on women’s rights, has their donors energized more than ever before.

Both House campaign committees are in a last-minute fundraising plea.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE sent an email appeal on behalf of the National Republican Congressional Committee, criticizing Obama and the Democrats.

“They think they can use their massive political machine to build support for tax hikes, more out-of-control spending, and more government intrusion into the private sector,” he wrote.

And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent out an email appeal on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, saying the top priority should be “creating jobs and growing our economy.”

“After House Republicans refused to take action on President Obama’s American Jobs Act, it is critical that we have a strong showing,” she wrote.