Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections

Members of the House and Senate have stockpiled a collective $645 million in campaign cash as they begin the slow run toward next year’s midterm elections.

That money offers early hints about the emerging battlegrounds in those elections where each party sees opportunities on the critical path forward.

Here are six takeaways from The Hill’s analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission reports:

Vulnerable Senate Democrats know they’re vulnerable

Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) have been in Washington for just a few months, but they are already emerging as the best fundraisers in the Senate.

Warnock pulled in $7.2 million in the last quarter, and Kelly trailed with $6 million. They both have big early totals, with more money on hand than all but Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

Among other potentially vulnerable Senate Democrats, Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.) have started building formidable stockpiles. The two first-termers both have more than $6.5 million in the bank.

Slow raisers raise questions

On the other side of the ledger are Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Both men are among the oldest and longest-serving senators in office — if Leahy were to win reelection, he would set the record for the longest tenure in the Senate — and both are the subject of constant retirement rumors.

Neither has formally said they will seek reelection, and both took it easy on the fundraising circuit in the last three months. Grassley, 87, raised $625,000, and Leahy, 81, pulled in $432,000. Grassley has about $2.5 million in the bank, and Leahy’s account stands just under $2 million.

It’s not likely that either Grassley or Leahy would face truly competitive races if they decide to run again, so they don’t need the biggest fundraising totals in the Senate. But if either is hoping to squelch retirement rumors, these reports won’t do the trick.

Speaking of retirement rumors: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) raised $1.2 million last quarter. That’s good, but not great, and he’s got just $1.7 million in the bank. It’s also less than all but one other senator up for reelection next year, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Lankford has said he will run for another term; Johnson has not.

Red-state Democrats make early waves

Democrats have been frustrated by Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida in recent years, prototypical swing states that have moved to the right. But three candidates are giving Democrats the early hope that they can recapture the working-class voters who once defined the party.

In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has proven one of the more adept fundraisers of the year. He raised $2.5 million in the last cycle, and he’s got $3 million in the bank. The tattooed, goateed and tie-averse former mayor of a small western Pennsylvania town is well ahead of his Democratic rivals.

In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan (D) is building his own impressive stockpile. An anemic presidential campaign has turned into a well-funded Senate bid. Ryan raised $3.1 million in the last quarter, and he’s got $2.5 million in the bank.

But both Fetterman and Ryan could take a page from Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), the former Orlando police chief now taking on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Demings raised almost $4.7 million last quarter, with more individual contributions than any other challenger running for a Senate seat this year.

Trump’s blessing isn’t a ticket to riches

The Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump have been among the best fundraisers of any members of the House of Representatives. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) pulled in $1.9 million in the last three months, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) raised $800,000 and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) raised $600,000.

Trump is eager to get revenge, and he’s endorsed challengers against at least some of those apostates.

But Trump’s endorsements haven’t unleashed the fundraising floodgates. Max Miller, the Trump-backed candidate challenging Gonzalez, raised $443,000 in the last quarter, an impressive start but nothing wild. In Alaska, former state administrator Kelly Tshibaka (R) raised $544,000 in her bid to challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), less than half of the incumbent’s totals.

The results show Trump makes noise, but so far he’s not shaking the money tree for his chosen candidates.

For House members, the louder, the better

Here’s a list of House members who raised the most money in the last three months: Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Cheney, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

What do they have in common? They are either in leadership, or they are darlings of partisan news outlets.

Crenshaw is a regular on Fox News. Greene, Jordan and Gaetz are more likely to pop up on OAN or Newsmax. Porter and Schiff are MSNBC regulars, and Ocasio-Cortez appears wherever and whenever she wants.

The lesson for younger and aspiring members of Congress: Television is your ticket to riches.

One exception, however, may be Dunn. The Florida congressman hasn’t appeared on a national media platform in months and most of the contributions to his campaign in the second quarter came from state and local donors.

The future of the House Democratic Caucus

Several of the House Democrats who first won election in 2018 are beginning to show themselves as some of the most adept fundraisers in politics today.

Porter, the Orange County Democrat who unseated Republican Mimi Walters, has almost $13 million in the bank. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) has $10 million on hand. Reps. Josh Harder (D-Calif.), Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) all have more than $4 million in the bank, and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) isn’t far off that mark.

Fundraising ability isn’t determinative in Congress, but it sure helps members vault to leadership and top committee positions. Keep an eye on those younger members, especially as an older generation of leaders nears the end of their careers.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Adam Kinzinger Adam Schiff Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Anthony Gonzalez Antonio Delgado Catherine Cortez Masto Charles Schumer Chuck Grassley Chuck Schumer Dan Crenshaw Donald Trump FEC filings James Lankford Jim Jordan John Thune Josh Gottheimer Kevin McCarthy Lisa Murkowski Liz Cheney Maggie Hassan Marco Rubio Marjorie Taylor Greene Mark Kelly Matt Gaetz Mikie Sherrill Mimi Walters Nancy Pelosi Neal Dunn Patrick Leahy Raphael Warnock Ron Johnson Steve Scalise Tim Ryan Tim Scott Val Demings

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