Freshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race

Freshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race
© Greg Nash

Freshman Democrats in the House blew the doors off the money race in the first quarter of 2019, firing a warning shot at Republicans eager to recapture control of the chamber in 2020.

More than a dozen freshman Democratic lawmakers reported fundraising totals surpassing $500,000 each, while more than two dozen brought in upwards of $400,000 in the first three months of the year, an analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports by The Hill found.

Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) took the top spot among his peers, bringing in roughly $870,000 in the first three months of 2019, while Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTlaib suggests boycotting Maher show after he calls anti-Israel boycott movement 'bullsh-t purity test' The Memo: Trump pushes back amid signs of economic slowdown Tlaib's grandmother to Trump: 'May God ruin' you MORE (D-Minn.), who has faced accusations of making anti-Semitic remarks in recent weeks, reported raising roughly $832,000.

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The numbers, made public in FEC filings, are particularly significant given that fundraising tends to ebb in nonelection years.

Taken together, they suggest that Democrats are holding on to the momentum that helped them recapture control of the House last year.

Meanwhile, Republicans are eager to take back the House majority that they lost in November.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP’s campaign arm, has already put 55 Democratic-held districts on its target list for 2020, including 31 that President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE won in 2016.

Many Democrats in those targeted districts have already started stockpiling money ahead of 2020.

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamAssault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (D-S.C.), who flipped a district that Trump carried by 13 points and is among those the NRCC is targeting, brought in more than $663,000 in the first three months of 2019. He ended the quarter with more than $500,000 in the bank.

Likewise, Rep. Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoAssault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress The 11 House Dems from Trump districts who support assault weapons ban House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities MORE (D-N.Y.), who won last year in a district Trump won by nearly 7 points, reported a massive $754,000 haul. He still has $682,000 in cash on hand.

Other top fundraisers in the first quarter include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezJoseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts The latest victims of the far-left's environmental zealotry: Long Islanders Ocasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention MORE (D-N.Y.), who brought in more than $726,000 and finished the quarter with more than $800,000 in the bank; Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillHouse Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy Lawmakers urge young women to run for office at DC conference MORE (D-Calif.), who raised roughly $605,000 and ended March with $590,000 on hand; and Rep. Max RoseMax RoseAssault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress The 11 House Dems from Trump districts who support assault weapons ban Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch MORE (D-N.Y.), who raked in about $579,000 and reported having $620,000 in the bank.

Already, several Democratic freshmen have GOP challengers raising money to unseat them.

Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican New York state assemblywoman, reported bringing in more than $300,000 for her bid to oust Rose.

And former Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelGOP Georgia congressional candidate withdraws after calling himself a 'white nationalist' Freshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race McBath fundraising off 'get back in the kitchen' remarks MORE (R-Ga.), who’s looking for a rematch against Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathGOP Georgia congressional candidate withdraws after calling himself a 'white nationalist' House Democrats request sit-down with McConnell to talk guns Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (D-Ga.) after her defeat last year, raised more than $238,000 in the first quarter.

Much of the money flowing to first-term Democrats came from outside their states.

For instance, roughly 84 percent of Rep. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerLobbying world Finish the work of building a renewable fuels industry GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions MORE’s (D-Iowa) first-quarter haul came from out-of-state donations. Likewise, 71 percent of contributions to Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-N.J.) campaign came from outside New Jersey.

The flood of out-of-state campaign cash underscores the extent to which House races have become national affairs.

For Republican freshmen, the fundraising outlook was markedly different. None of the 29 new GOP House members hit the $500,000 mark in the first quarter.

Among the class’s top fundraisers were Rep. Van TaylorNicholas (Van) Van Campen Taylor58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill Freshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race Bipartisan group introduces legislation to protect federal workers' health benefits during shutdowns MORE (R-Texas), who brought in roughly $417,000 and ended the period with about $473,000 in the bank, and Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawCNN slams GOP for not appearing on network after mass shootings, conservatives fire back Texas Democratic official: GOP needs to 'get real' about gun reform after El Paso Conservatives call on Pelosi to cancel August recess MORE (R-Texas), who raised $399,000 in the first three months of 2019 and closed out the quarter with $368,000.

Some of the most vulnerable House Republicans, however, posted strong fundraising numbers as they look to head off potentially tough reelection bids next year.

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdRepublicans offer support for Steve King challenger House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad The 9 House Republicans who support background checks MORE (R-Texas), for instance, raked in about $524,000 between January and March, according to FEC filings. And Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Ensuring quality health care for those with intellectual disabilities and autism House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad MORE (R-Pa.) reported raising $371,000 and $440,000 respectively. All three are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of 2020 targets.

Republicans need a net gain of roughly 20 seats to win back control of the lower chamber next year.

They are hoping that, with Trump on the ballot, the party’s base voters will flock to the polls and ultimately boost their candidates down ballot.

But Trump’s presence on the ticket in 2020 is likely to be a double-edged sword, with Democrats betting that the president’s deep unpopularity among their core constituents and more moderate voters will allow them to not only hold on to their House majority but expand it.