Fundraising recap: Year-end reports show money game still lurching along

Candidates around the country proved with their latest financial filings that it’s never too early to begin the next campaign — especially if you’re a freshman.

Newly sworn-in members of Congress from all over raised money for 2010 before they even took the oath, while others with eyes on potentially bigger prizes, like the Senate, began their quests.

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Among the top fundraisers for the five-week year-end period were freshman Reps. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) and Bobby Bright (D-Ala.).

All raised $80,000 or more, with McClintock pulling in $120,000, and all could be top House targets in 2010.

The fundraising is a particularly good sign for Bright, who won a tough open-seat race despite struggling with his fundraising in 2008. He has already raised $100,000, which is about one-tenth of the amount he needed to win last year.

Other top fundraisers included 27-year-old freshman Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who pulled in $73,000, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), who was rumored to be a potential Senate appointee, and Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), who pulled in $56,000 after finding himself targeted in 2008.

Similarly, Pennsylvania Democratic Reps. John Murtha and Paul Kanjorski, who last year became targets for the first time in several cycles, both raised about $60,000 in the abbreviated filing period.

Freshman Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), who is perhaps the No. 1 Democratic target in 2010, raised just less than $20,000 in the final three and a half weeks of the year. Cao shockingly won a delayed race in heavily Democratic New Orleans in early December.

Perennial candidate Deborah Honeycutt (R), who caused the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to spend money defending Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) last year, continued her torrid, high-spending fundraising pace. She looked as though a third-straight bid might be on the way, raising $210,000 and spending $200,000 after pulling in more than $4.5 million last cycle.

With a number of upcoming vacancies in the House, the year-end Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings that were due over the weekend also provided some indication of where the races for those seats are headed.

One race getting an early start — the special election for the open seat left by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel — saw Illinois state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz leading the crowded pack of Democrats with $320,000 raised and $300,000 on hand.

Doctor Victor Forys came in second.  He self-funded $110,000 and raised $50,000 for a total of  $160,000. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley raised $140,000, and Professor Charlie Wheelan raised $110,000.

State Rep. John Fritchey officially joined the race after the Dec. 31 cutoff, so he did not file a year-end report.

Another shotgun race is the one to replace Senate candidate Rep. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMcConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug bill Senators inch forward on federal privacy bill Hillicon Valley: Dueling bills set stage for privacy debate | Google co-founders step down from parent company | Advocates rally for self-driving car bill | Elon Musk defamation trial begins | Lawsuit accuses TikTok of sharing data with China MORE (R-Kan.). In that race, former Senate staffer Rob Wasinger outraised state Sen. Tim Huelskamp $100,000-to-$75,000, with both just shy of $100,000 cash on hand.

{mospagebreak}Moran, who had $2.4 million in his House account when he announced for Senate, upped that to $2.5 million in his year-end report.

His primary opponent, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), made his candidacy official over the weekend. He did not raise money during the year-end period, and had $1 million on hand in his House account.

In Texas, Houston Mayor Bill White (D) had an impressive first month as a Senate candidate, raising $770,000 in just a few weeks and banking $740,000. White is pursuing the seat of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who may vacate it during a potential 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

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Many other Senate candidates, including Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), former Rep. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing MORE (R-Ohio) and Kentucky Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D), did not raise significant money in 2008.

Portman still had $1.5 million in his old House account, while Meek had $430,000 in his House account. Mongiardo, who recently announced he will run for Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R) seat for the second time, had just $49 left from that last campaign.

In New York, Rep. Pete King (R) has been talking a lot about running for Senate but has yet to hit the fundraising trail for it. King, who has nearly $1.1 million in cash in his House account, raised just $6,000 in the last five and a half weeks of 2008.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, raised $480,000 over that span as he actively pursued the appointment for the former seat of now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D).

Rep. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAdvocacy groups decry Trump's 'anti-family policies' ahead of White House summit This bipartisan plan is the most progressive approach to paid parental leave Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' MORE (D-N.Y.) wound up getting the Senate seat.

Israel, with $1.7 million in the bank, isn’t talking about a primary challenge, but Rep. Carolyn McCarthyCarolyn McCarthyWhy Congress needs an openly atheist member, now Lobbying World Lobbying world MORE (D-N.Y.) is. McCarthy did not actively raise money and had just $190,000 in the bank at the end of the year.

Another Democratic member of the state’s delegation, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, was actively raising money in December as well, pulling in $50,000. Over the last four cycles, Maloney has never raised money the December after an election.

Almost no prospective Senate candidates began raising serious money for their races. Among those considering running are Reps. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Ron Klein (D-Fla.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Senate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans MORE (R-Mo.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Bottom Line MORE (R-Ill.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Another Illinois Senate hopeful, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D), showed $100,000 in legal expenses after he was fingered as “Senate Candidate No. 5” in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) arrest documents.

The documents quoted Blagojevich saying that an “emissary” for that candidate had offered to raise the governor $1 million in exchange for the appointment to President Obama’s former Senate seat.

The man who was appointed, Sen. Roland Burris (D), opened a campaign account after the cutoff, as did appointed Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Schumer to colleagues running for White House: Impeachment comes first Sanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate MORE (D-Colo.).