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 OmarSanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle 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 TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE won in 2016.

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

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamHouse Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week The lawmakers who bucked their parties on the war powers resolution 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 Delgado Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters The most expensive congressional races of the last decade How the 31 Democrats in Trump districts voted on 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-CortezImpeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa The Hill's Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa 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 HillVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address California Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Cenk Uygur updates on Congressional campaign, how I will call out corporate politicians in Washington MORE (D-Calif.), who raised roughly $605,000 and ended March with $590,000 on hand; and Rep. Max RoseMax RoseSan Francisco mayor endorses Bloomberg Mixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates Rep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid 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 HandelThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Georgia ready for unpredictable Senate race Hundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia MORE (R-Ga.), who’s looking for a rematch against Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade How the 31 Democrats in Trump districts voted on impeachment Vulnerable Democrats signal support for impeachment articles this week 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 FinkenauerThe Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power Biden to go on Iowa tour with swing district lawmakers Warren-Sanders dispute thrusts gender into 2020 spotlight 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 TaylorHouse GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill Freshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race MORE (R-Texas), who brought in roughly $417,000 and ended the period with about $473,000 in the bank, and Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawO'Rourke says he'll focus on flipping Texas state House in 2020 House GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues Saagar Enjeti: Crenshaw's conservatism will doom future of GOP 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 Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts 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. FitzpatrickDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements House revives agenda after impeachment storm Former Pennsylvania Rep. Fitzpatrick dead at 56 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.