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 OmarOcasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders Ocasio-Cortez throws support to Sanders at Queens rally 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 TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE won in 2016.

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

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamDemocratic lawmaker fires back after NRCC mocks him for getting marriage counseling Here are the House Democrats who aren't backing Trump impeachment inquiry Here are the Democrats who aren't co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban 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 DelgadoProgressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign Trump impeachment battle hits TV ads Pelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry 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-CortezOcasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders Ocasio-Cortez throws support to Sanders at Queens rally 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 beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Polling director: Young voters swayed by health care, economy, gun control MORE (D-Calif.), who raised roughly $605,000 and ended March with $590,000 on hand; and Rep. Max RoseMax RoseHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Democratic lawmakers press for white supremacist groups to be labeled foreign terrorist organizations Bottom Line 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 HandelOssoff raises 0k in first three weeks of Senate bid, campaign says McBath passes on running for Senate GOP buys JonOssoff.com after Democrat launches Georgia Senate bid MORE (R-Ga.), who’s looking for a rematch against Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathWhy impeach Trump? Follow the polls Mass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year Ossoff raises 0k in first three weeks of Senate bid, campaign says 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 FinkenauerIowa Democrat tops Ernst in third-quarter fundraising for Senate race Pelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Lobbying world 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 CrenshawGeorge Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy The absurdity of President Trump picking the Democratic nominee Missouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers 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 HurdLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Democrats claim new momentum from intelligence watchdog testimony Romney: Trump requesting Biden investigation from China, Ukraine 'wrong and appalling' 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 Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster GOP group calls out five House Republicans to speak up on Ukraine On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats' objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena 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.