Republicans are on track to have more than 100 challengers running this cycle, but many of them will be in the same races.
Well-funded candidates crowded GOP primaries across the country in the fourth quarter of 2009, after the dust settled on a summer that saw the rise of the Tea Party movement.
Republicans now face primaries in about two-thirds of their top-targeted races, with most of them coming to fruition in the fourth quarter. Most of the new insurgent candidates come with the ability to self-fund, at least at the start of their campaigns.
Many are simply crowding primaries the national GOP has left to sort themselves out, but others are going after establishment favorites in top-tier races.
Compared to the recruitment problems the party faced in the past two cycles, though too many candidates is a good problem to have.
Democrats, who have ventured deep into GOP territory in recent years, don't have as many targets on the map or candidates itching to run, but they remain well-funded as they eye a cycle in which they will defend their majority.
The Tea Party movement has a well-funded candidate in the race for retiring Rep. Bart Gordon's (D-Tenn.) seat: GOP activist Lou Ann Zelenik self-funded more than $300,000 for the race. The national GOP favorite in that race, state Sen. Jim Tracy, raised $267,000, and he also faces state Sen. Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackBottom line Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party | More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic | 1 in 4 in poll say high costs led them to skip medical care Lamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee MORE, who raised $50,000 and self-funded $100,000.
Another national-party favorite, businessman Scott RigellScott RigellSpanberger's GOP challenger raises over .8 million in third quarter Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat GOP rushes to embrace Trump MORE, saw one insurgent opponent take a step back, only to have another come forward in the race to face Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.). Businessman Ben Loyola refunded all but $100,000 of the half-million dollars he self-funded in the third quarter, but government consultant Bert Mizusawa picked up the slack, raising $154,000 and self-funding another $50,000.
Loyola’s campaign insists it will still self-fund, but says the businessman opted to invest the money in the meantime.
Also in Virginia, state Sen. Robert HurtRobert HurtThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms Democrat defeats controversial chair of House Wall Street subpanel Republican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds MORE saw two opponents self-fund extensively in the race for Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D) seat. Businessmen Jim McKelvey and Laurence Verga contributed $500,000 and $214,000 of their own money, respectively, and McKelvey has suggested he might run as an Independent if things don’t work out in the primary.
But it’s not just happening to favored candidates in top-tier races.
Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) has not been a top GOP target, but businessman Rob Cornilles has caught the GOP’s attention as a potentially strong candidate.
On Sunday, Cornilles found out unknown GOP candidate Stephan Brodhead self-funded $234,000 for the race and now has more cash on hand than he does.
In Rep. Mike McMahon’s (D-N.Y.) Staten Island district, Michael Allegretti turned some heads in the third quarter by raising nearly $190,000. In the fourth quarter, former FBI agent Mike Grimm came out of nowhere to top Allegretti, with more than $310,000 raised.
Similarly, on Long Island, businessman and self-funder Randy Altschuler has competition in his quest to face Rep. Tim BishopTimothy (Tim) Howard BishopOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Dem candidate 'struck by the parallels' between Trump's rise and Hitler's Dems separated by 29 votes in NY House primary MORE (D-N.Y.). Attorney George Demos announced more than $300,000 raised for the race and is giving Altschuler a run for his money.
Well-funded candidates also joined contested primaries in the races to face Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP blocks bill to expand gun background checks after Michigan school shooting Murphy criticizes anti-abortion lawmakers following Michigan school shooting Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE (D-Conn.). In all four cases, the new candidate had total receipts (raised and self-funding) of $250,000 or more.
Lesser self-funders entered the primaries to face Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) and Mark Schauer (D-Mich.).
Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta could find himself in a newly competitive primary after turning in a subpar $61,000 quarter. He only slightly outraised little-known candidate Bob Bestani, and other Republicans are looking at joining the race against Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.).
Challengers weren’t the only ones to see their primaries grow. A series of GOP incumbents — Reps. Jim GerlachJames (Jim) GerlachThe business case for employer to employee engagement 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? Pa. GOP 'disappointed' by rep retiring after filing deadline MORE (R-Pa.), Parker Griffith (R-Ala.) and Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) — all saw primary opponents emerge.
Gerlach and Griffith, of course, earned their primaries — Gerlach because he had been running for governor, Griffith because he switched parties. In the former district, businessman Steven Welch has now banked $650,000 for the race, after raising $243,000 in the fourth quarter. In the latter, businessman
Les Phillip raised $229,000 but left only about $60,000 in the bank, while Madison County Commissioner Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksJan. 6 organizers used burner phones to communicate with White House: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House Democrats eye big vote on Biden measure Meadows comes under growing Jan. 6 panel spotlight MORE raised $48,000 and banked $211,000.
Jenkins is facing a primary with state Sen. Dennis Pyle, who raised and banked a modest $44,000 while he considers the race.
The growing number of primaries in the fourth quarter don’t include the candidates who have gotten in since Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts earlier this month. In recent days, businessman Bruce O’Donoghue joined the primary for Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonDeSantis tops Crist, Fried in poll of Florida governor race Florida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio MORE’s (D-Fla.) seat, Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity announced he would run in the primary for Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse Democrats miss chance to help McAuliffe Progressives see infrastructure vote next week Dem hopes for infrastructure vote hit brick wall MORE’s (D-Va.) seat and former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-Ind.) joined the primary for Rep. Baron Hill’s (D-Ind.) seat.
Not all primaries were expanding, though.
In the race against Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), former Iowa State University wrestling coach Jim Gibbons established himself as the man to beat with a $207,000 quarter, far outpacing the primary field.
Republicans also saw strong quarters from new candidates running by themselves in the races against Reps. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.). Businessman Mark Bitz raised and banked $167,000 against Maffei, while Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier outraised Perlmutter, $219,000 to $215,000.
In Nevada’s 3rd district, Rob Lauer self-funded $100,000 for the race in the fourth quarter before switching to the Nevada secretary of state’s race over the weekend. That leaves state Sen. Joe Heck on course to face Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.).