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 CornynWillie Nelson on supporting O'Rourke: 'Anything he wants to do, I'm with Beto' Willie Nelson on supporting O'Rourke: 'Anything he wants to do, I'm with Beto' Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner MORE (R-Texas), who pulled in $2 million in the last three months; Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyDemocrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Democratic challenger to Susan Collins announces Senate bid MORE (R-Ariz.) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerKoch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate MORE (R-Colo.), each of whom raised about $2 million; and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission 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 TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally 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 ByrneRoy Moore to announce Thursday if he will run for Senate again Roy Moore to announce Thursday if he will run for Senate again Overnight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland 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 GrahamOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE (R-S.C.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request 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 ErnstGOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal GOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate MORE (R-Iowa), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenators weigh potential security risks from Chinese-made drones August recess under threat as yearly spending bills pile up August recess under threat as yearly spending bills pile up MORE (R-Alaska) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTrump throws support behind 'no brainer' measure to ban burning of American flag Trump throws support behind 'no brainer' measure to ban burning of American flag House panel advances bill to create cybersecurity standards for government IT devices 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 RobertsEPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste EPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste Conservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries MORE (R-Kan.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump Overnight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump Trump's health care focus puts GOP on edge MORE (R-Tenn.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Trump planning Air Force One flyover during July 4 celebration at Mall: report Trump planning Air Force One flyover during July 4 celebration at Mall: report 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 EnziBeware of the 'unknown knowns' of budget reform The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa MORE (R-Wyo.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischUN nominee Kelly Craft to face confirmation hearing Wednesday UN nominee Kelly Craft to face confirmation hearing Wednesday Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales MORE (R-Idaho), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeShanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless GOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal Trump says Shanahan out as Defense secretary nominee MORE (R-Okla.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless 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 TillisKoch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments 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 HaganTillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll 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.