Bring on 2014 — fourth quarter fundraising winners and losers
While the final quarter of an off year can be sluggish for many candidates, some House and Senate candidates impressed, even in the midst of the holiday rush, using the past three months to pad their coffers heading into 2014. But others — both new and veteran members — flatlined and are beginning to show glaring weaknesses as November quickly approaches.
Fundraising numbers are still trickling in following the Jan. 31 reporting deadline — some candidates often try to file at the last minute to bury poor numbers. But after poring over many of the just-released numbers, here are The Hill’s top five winners and losers from the fourth quarter fundraising reports.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.): $2 million raised, $6.4 million cash on hand
Hagan had another huge fundraising quarter ahead of what’s expected to be a tough race.
The Democrat’s most likely opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), brought in just $700,000 for the race and has only $1.3 million in the bank. One of Tillis’s primary foes, Tea Party activist Greg Brannon (R), said he raised around $250,000 for the quarter but has yet to release his overall fundraising totals. A third opponent, Rev. Mark Harris (R), hasn’t yet filed his numbers.
Hagan has been tied with her GOP opponents in most public polls, and the deep-pocketed conservative group Americans for Prosperity has been spending heavily against her. But her sizable cash edge over her opponents remains an important factor in why this contest will be close.
Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R): $1.25 million raised
Sullivan came roaring out of the gate after launching his campaign in mid-October, raising $1.25 million in his first 10 weeks as a candidate. Sullivan used his strong connections to Washington Republicans to far outpace his main primary foe and also top the Democrat he’s hoping to defeat in the fall.
Sullivan’s haul quintupled the $230,000 Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) raised. He also outpaced Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who brought in $850,000 during the same stretch. Begich has $2.8 million in the bank, however, while Sullivan didn’t say how much he’s spent.
If Sullivan can keep up this fundraising pace, he might be able to look past Treadwell and his other primary opponent, 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller (R). That would allow him to spend much of his time and money on Begich, boosting his chances come November.
Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D): $1.6 million raised
Nunn has kept up her torrential fundraising pace and is likely to have a big money edge over her GOP opponents heading into the fall election.
The Democrat has yet to release her cash on hand numbers, but the former charity executive has brought in $1.6 million or more in all three of the fundraising quarters since she entered the race.
Of the five Republicans running against her, only Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) has released his numbers, a sign the others might be struggling with their hauls. Kingston brought in a solid $880,000 and has $3.4 million in the bank.
Florida’s 2nd District candidate Gwen Graham (D): $474,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
Graham again substantially outraised Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), bringing in $474,000 to his $259,000 in the fourth quarter. The top Democratic recruit now has more than $1 million cash in the bank, compared to his $840,000 — a considerable leap from the third quarter, when she led him in cash on hand only by about $11,000.
New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R): $443,000 raised, $1.1 million cash on hand
After drawing a high-profile Democratic challenger in attorney Bill Hughes, Jr., LoBiondo ramped up his fundraising in the fourth quarter and issued a strong warning to his challenger with the $443,000 he brought in. That’s a considerable uptick from the $101,000 he raised in the third quarter and gives him more than $1.1 million cash on hand for the fight. Hughes raised at a swift pace as well, bringing in $185,000 in just over two months, but LoBiondo’s showing is an indication he’s ready to raise — and spend — what it takes to hold onto his competitive seat, which he hasn’t had to defend in a while.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.): $340,000 raised, $1.1 million cash on hand
Cochran had to unexpectedly kick a dormant campaign operation into action when state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced his plans to challenge him in the primary, and his meager fourth-quarter haul — more than $150,000 less than McDaniel’s — shows it.
Cochran brought in only $340,000 and has just $1.1 million cash on hand. That’s three times the $350,000 McDaniel has in the bank. He raised $500,000 in the 10 weeks after he announced his bid, and outside conservative groups are already spending to attack Cochran, meaning the fundraising gap he’ll have to make up is already much wider.
Former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.): $20,000 raised, $21,000 cash on hand
Baca is seeking a return to Congress in Rep. Gary Miller’s (R-Calif.) district after losing a 2012 post-redistricting race to Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.), but it’s looking increasingly like he has no chance of even advancing past the top-two primary in the Democratic-leaning seat.
He has been shunned by national party strategists: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is backing Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D), while EMILY’s List is supporting attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes (D). Gomez Reyes had the most impressive quarter of the Democrats, with $300,000 raised, and she and Aguilar both have around a half-million dollars for the race. Miller has $910,000 in the bank.
Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.): $127,000 raised, $129,000 cash on hand
Bentivolio, nicknamed the “accidental congressman,” after he won a primary following then-Rep. Thad McCotter’s (R-Mich.) abrupt withdrawal after failing to make the ballot in 2012, actually showed a marked improvement in his fundraising — but that wasn’t too hard, considering he raised less than $60,000 in the third quarter.
Thanks to that weak fundraising, the incumbent Republican has only a quarter of the funds of his primary challenger. Businessman Dave Trott (R) has more than $700,000 in the bank after raising $1 million in his first four months as a candidate and looks like the front-runner now to win the GOP nomination.
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.): $165,000 raised, $358,000 cash on hand
Peterson, who has long been the target of retirement rumors, turned in another weak fundraising quarter. That’s despite having help from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who held a December fundraiser for him. The low totals hint he might not run again (he’s said he’ll decide in March), and if he does retire, the seat would be a likely pickup for the GOP.
If Peterson runs, he’ll still start with a cash edge. However, state Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) raised just $84,000 since he jumped into the race in early December. If Peterson runs, he’d still be the favorite, and his totals are likely to go up now that he’s not busy shepherding the farm bill through Congress.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa): $163,000 raised, $139,000 cash on hand
The conservative firebrand has seen his fundraising decline in a big way after raising more than $3.4 million for his hotly contested 2012 reelection against former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D).
His challenger this year, veteran Jim Mowrer (D), outraised King for the second quarter in a row, this time by more than $7,000. Mowrer now has a $67,000 cash advantage over the veteran congressman. King still has the upper hand in the GOP-leaning district in a midterm year, but Mower’s fundraising numbers have been impressive for a first-time candidate while King’s have trailed off significantly.