Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020

 Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020
Incumbent senators are sitting on a combined total of more than $77 million as they stockpile campaign cash ahead of next year’s elections.
 
Fourteen incumbent senators pulled in more than $1 million in the last quarter, and eleven now have at least $3 million in the bank, according to forms filed with the Federal Election Commission this week and analyzed by The Hill.
 
The fundraising hauls are just the beginning of what is likely to be a pitched battle for control of the Senate. Republicans are defending 22 seats next year, while Democrats have 12 seats on the table. 
 
Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, meaning Democrats would have to pick up a net of at least three seats and the White House to win back the majority, or four seats to hold control regardless of who wins the presidency.
 
The fundraising results offer the earliest hints at the contours of next year’s battlefield.
 
Among those who raised the most money were Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP braces for impeachment brawl Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe MORE (R-Texas), who pulled in $2 million in the last three months; Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions MORE (R-Ariz.) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP braces for impeachment brawl Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows MORE (R-Colo.), each of whom raised about $2 million; and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria MORE (R-Maine), who pulled in $1.5 million. All four Republicans are likely to be top Democratic targets next year.
 
Both McSally and Gardner have drawn challengers who have already posted impressive fundraising numbers of their own.
 
In Arizona, former astronaut Mark Kelly (D) pulled in more than $4.1 million and has $3.2 million in the bank. In Colorado, former state Sen. Mike Johnston (D) raised $1.8 million in his first weeks on the trail, though he faces an increasingly crowded Democratic primary field.
 
On the Democratic side, Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) pulled in $1.6 million. He begins what is likely to be an uphill battle for reelection with $3.1 million in the bank in a deeply conservative state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE carried easily in 2016.
 
The only candidate who has both announced a bid against Jones and filed a report with the FEC, Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneGOP seeks to gain more control of impeachment narrative GOP Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville says Trump has 'put a noose' around farmers' necks with trade war Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 MORE (R), ended the quarter with $2 million on hand, though he will have to spend much of that money on what is likely to be a contested Republican primary.
 
 
“People in potentially competitive races really have to use every day to move the ball forward for their race, and that means fundraising, press, politics,” said Martha McKenna, a Democratic strategist and former senior operative at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “If you’re headed for a tough 2020, taking fundraising very seriously is the top of your list.”
 
Political observers use the early numbers to gauge just how seriously a sitting senator takes his or her reelection bid.
 
A strong quarter is unlikely to dissuade a challenger from running, though a weak quarter can be an early red flag that a senator is taking it easy during a crucial stretch.
 
“If you’re an incumbent and you have a bad quarter it shows how unprepared you are for what’s coming your way. This should be a quarter where you can knock it out of the park,” said Rob Jesmer, a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a top adviser to Cornyn. “You realize right away who has a good operation and who doesn’t.”
 
Cornyn has the largest campaign bank account of any sitting senator, at more than $7.4 million. Two fellow Republicans — Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Fury over Trump Syria decision grows MORE (R-S.C.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFury over Trump Syria decision grows Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe Trump: Let Assad, Russia or China protect the Kurds MORE (R-Ky.) — narrowly outraised Cornyn over the last three months. Graham has $4.6 million in the bank, and McConnell has more than $5.5 million on hand.
 
First-term Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay Ernst10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy MORE (R-Iowa), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan Republicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall MORE (R-Alaska) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesFallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal MORE (R-Mont.), all of whom captured Democratic seats six years ago, all raised a little more than $1.1 million and had more than $2 million on hand by the end of March, including transfers from joint fundraising accounts.
 
The initial results can also serve as an indication that some long-serving senators are considering retirement, rather than another six years in office. Already, Sens. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsJeffress dismisses evangelical opposition to Trump's Syria decision: Not one will 'switch their vote' Overnight Defense: Trump defends Turkey amid fierce criticism | Senators demand briefing on Syria decision | Turkey confirms strikes on Syrian border | White House says it won't cooperate on impeachment inquiry Pat Robertson 'absolutely appalled' by Trump's Syria announcement MORE (R-Kan.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP braces for impeachment brawl McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows GOP senator: 'Inappropriate' to discuss opponents, but impeachment a 'mistake' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallGreen groups line up behind Markey ahead of looming Kennedy fight Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group Overnight Energy: Top Interior lawyer accused of lying to Congress confirmed | Senate set to deny funding for BLM move | EPA threatens to cut California highway funds MORE (D-N.M.) have said they will not run for reelection.
 
Five senators raised less than half a million dollars over the last three months. Four of them — Sens. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziPoll: Majority of independent voters want GOP to retain control of Senate in 2020 Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Liz Cheney and Rand Paul extend war of words MORE (R-Wyo.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischGOP braces for impeachment brawl Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria McConnell warns NBA to respect free speech on China MORE (R-Idaho), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump declares 'case closed' as text messages raise new questions Top House Democrat: Trump did 'on camera' what Romney warned about GOP senators attack whistleblower's credibility MORE (R-Okla.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedFury over Trump Syria decision grows Democrats warn Trump's Turkey sanctions don't go far enough Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules MORE (D-R.I.) — have not formally declared they are running for new terms.
 
All four would likely skate to reelection; Enzi, Risch and Inhofe represent safely red states, though none of the three Republicans have formally said they will seek another term.
 
Inhofe’s campaign said the Oklahoma Republican had actually raised more this quarter, $334,000, than he had at this point six years ago. 
 
Reed’s Rhode Island is deeply Democratic, and he will attend a campaign fundraiser with Walt Disney Co. executives this week. 
 
The fifth senator lagging on the fundraising circuit is Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who has just $217,000 in the bank. She has just begun to rebuild her campaign account after winning a special election to fill the final two years of her predecessor’s term.
 
Some senators who may face tough races started off the cycle at a slower fundraising clip.
 
Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE (R-N.C.) raised a little more than $1 million in the last three months, and he has $2.9 million on hand; Tillis’s home state is likely to be a presidential battleground next year, and North Carolina voters have made a recent habit of booting one-term incumbents like Elizabeth Dole (R), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganWarning signs flash for Tillis in North Carolina Tillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll North Carolina businessman will challenge Tillis in GOP primary MORE (D), Lauch Faircloth (R) and Terry Sanford (D).
 
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) raised $1.8 million in the first quarter of the year, and ended with more than $3.3 million in the bank. Perdue, who gave his own campaign $3.9 million six years ago, faces the prospect of a challenge from former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D), who has built her own network of national donors.
 
Perdue’s situation is like many of his colleagues, on both sides of the aisle: His most prominent potential challenger has not yet made a decision about whether to jump in the race, underscoring just how long there is to go before voters have their say.
 
Prominent candidates have not made final decisions in states like Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Kentucky, Iowa or North Carolina.
 
But, the Democratic strategist McKenna said, now is the time for candidates to begin sucking up cash. The battle for the White House has already begun in earnest, offering a shiny and enticing distraction to donors who might otherwise pay attention to down-ballot contests.
 
“This is the window, because the presidential’s going to start sucking up all the attention,” McKenna said.