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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 OmarThere will be no new immigration law under Biden, unless he changes course Free Speech Inc.: The Democratic Party finds a new but shaky faith in corporate free speech Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands 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 TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE won in 2016.

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

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamJoe Cunningham to enter race for South Carolina governor Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' Lobbying world 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 DelgadoCuomo job approval drops 6 points amid nursing home controversy: poll Cuomo takes heat from all sides on nursing home scandal We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money 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-CortezThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel Battle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers Overnight Energy: Update on Biden administration conservation goals | GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices | Push for nationwide electric vehicle charging stations 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 HillMaher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' Former Obama official named NFL senior VP of communications Republicans fret over divisive candidates MORE (D-Calif.), who raised roughly $605,000 and ended March with $590,000 on hand; and Rep. Max RoseMax RoseOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money 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 defeats Perdue in Georgia Senate runoff McBath wins rematch against Handel in Georgia House race House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts MORE (R-Ga.), who’s looking for a rematch against Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathLawmakers brace for battles with colleagues as redistricting kicks off On The Trail: Census data kicks off the biggest redistricting fight in American history Giffords group unveils gun violence memorial on National Mall 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 FinkenauerGOP hammers Democrats over Iowa Democrat's election challenge Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters 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 TaylorVan TaylorHouse Republicans ask Pelosi to reschedule Biden's address to Congress Six ways to visualize a divided America House approves rules package for new Congress MORE (R-Texas), who brought in roughly $417,000 and ended the period with about $473,000 in the bank, and Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawCrenshaw makes first appearance at hearing since eye surgery Crenshaw 'hopeful' but not 'out of the woods' after eye surgery GOP Rep. Crenshaw to take leave due to eye surgery 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 HurdPence autobiography coming from Simon & Schuster Prince Harry joins Aspen Institute commission on misinformation Congress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent 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. FitzpatrickAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Biden visits local Mexican restaurant to highlight relief program Police reform talks ramp up amid pressure from Biden, families 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.