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 OmarThe four House Democrats who voted against the border funding bill Ocasio-Cortez: It was easier to get elected to Congress than pay off student loan debt Progressive group endorses three House freshmen 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 Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE won in 2016.

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

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamTime for Congress to shut the door on President Trump's radical offshore drilling plan Overnight Energy: Trump proposal would nix agency reviews of long-term climate impacts | Greens rip decision | House votes to block offshore drilling for one year House votes to block US offshore drilling for one year 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 DelgadoConservative group launches ad calling on 2020 Democrats to name potential Supreme Court picks Freshman Democrats call on McConnell to hold vote on election reform bill Democrats face voters clamoring for impeachment 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-CortezDemocrat backs up Ocasio-Cortez: Migrant shelters 'are like concentration camps' Ocasio-Cortez marks one-year anniversary of her primary win Democratic lawmaker says treatment of migrants at border 'not American' 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 HillLawmakers urge young women to run for office at DC conference Tensions with Iran reach new stage over uranium threat Ocasio-Cortez shares verse by the 'Congressional Destiny's Child' in promotion of new birth control legislation MORE (D-Calif.), who raised roughly $605,000 and ended March with $590,000 on hand; and Rep. Max RoseMax RoseCongress needs to continue fighting the opioid epidemic Hillicon Valley: Investigation finds federal agencies failed to address cyber vulnerabilities | Officials crack down on illegal robocallers | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Senators grill Google exec on 'persuasive technology' Artificial intelligence can't solve online extremism issue, experts tell House panel 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 HandelFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race McBath fundraising off 'get back in the kitchen' remarks Ex-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 MORE (R-Ga.), who’s looking for a rematch against Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathBlack women candidates are overlooked and underrated Ex-congressman launching PAC to defend Dem seats in 2020 GOP amps up efforts to recruit women candidates 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 FinkenauerYoungest black congresswoman says millennial colleagues have 'less fighting over partisan nonsense' The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems make last dash for debate stage GOP amps up efforts to recruit women candidates 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 CrenshawCongress needs to continue fighting the opioid epidemic Liz Cheney hits back at Ocasio-Cortez over concentration camp comments: 'This isn't model Congress' Republican lawmaker: Plan to #CancelStudentDebt 'is immoral' 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 HurdThe four House Democrats who voted against the border funding bill Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats 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. FitzpatrickThe four House Democrats who voted against the border funding bill Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Addressing climate change is a win for Republicans — why not embrace it? 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.