Strong fundraising numbers boost Senate Democrats in battle to control upper chamber
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Most Democratic Senate candidates brought in strong fundraising hauls for the first quarter of 2018, the latest reports show, a positive sign for a party defending multiple seats and leaving some Republicans playing catch up in the race for campaign cash.
Democrats are defending more seats on the map in November than the GOP in their uphill battle to win control of the Senate. They need a treasure trove of dollars to defend their seats plus pick up the two they need to control the upper chamber.
Adding to the financial pressures are the number of seats the party is defending, meaning as the election gets closer, resources will get tighter and, if the candidates don’t have the cash to get themselves across the finish line, they may not be able to count on the party to bail them out.
But several Democratic contenders in competitive contests were in good financial shape in the first quarter of this year, especially those Democrats running for reelection in red states won by Donald Trump in 2016. There are, however, three quarters left to go.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and Montana Sen. Jon Tester all outraised their GOP rivals.
And two Democratic challengers – Beto O’Rourke in Texas and Jacky Rosen in Nevada – outraised the GOP incumbents they are challenging.
“Senate Democrats’ strong fundraising reflects the wave of grassroots support and enthusiasm that will help propel our campaigns to victory in November,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee, in a statement.
Republicans acknowledge the political climate across the country makes it tougher on them to fundraise.
“Most of the incumbents that are running are Democrats and normally incumbents have a much easier time raising money,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “They have some natural advantages in terms of fundraising that way. Secondly, it’s no secret that there’s a lot of enthusiasm on the Democratic side and I think that’s reflected in fundraising numbers.”
He added: “The Democrats are raising a lot of money but they’re going to need a lot of money.”
But other Democrats didn’t do as well as some of their brethren, falling behind in the money race, in seats the party will need to put in the win column in November.
In West Virginia, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was outraised by one of his GOP rivals – former coal industry executive Don Blankenship – by around half a million dollars. The other two Republican contenders haven’t released their fundraising data.
Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown was outraised by GOP Rep. Jim Renacci by a little more than $1 million.
In Arizona, Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema was outraised by one of the Republican candidates – Martha McSally – by about $25,000.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson raised $3.2 million but his GOP rival, Gov. Rick Scott, entered the race on April 9 so he didn’t have to file a first-quarter fundraising report.
This could end up being a $100 million race given the state’s expensive media market and the fact Scott has the personal wealth to invest in the contest. He put $83 million of his own money into his two gubernatorial campaigns, according to local newspapers, meaning Democrats are going to need a lot of cash to stay competitive.
In other races, not all the fundraising information was available.
And not all Senate campaign data is available on the Federal Election Commission website at this time. Some campaigns have released their fundraising numbers and local media has reported on others.
Republicans have a two-vote advantage in the upper chamber. They are defending eight seats this year, while Democrats are defending 24 plus the two independents who caucus with them.
Here’s a look at where the numbers are at in some of key races that will decide which party controls the Senate.
Missouri: McCaskill outraised her GOP rival, state Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Hawley raised $1.29 million in the first quarter of 2018, the Kansas City Star reported, with $2.12 million cash on hand.
McCaskill, in contrast, raised $3.9 million and has $11.5 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.
Florida: Nelson raised $3.2 million and has $10.5 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. Scott did not have to file a report.
West Virginia: Manchin raised $949,000 in the first quarter and has $5.4 million in the bank, according to FEC reports.
GOP candidate Don Blankenship, raised $1.6 million and had $214,000 cash on hand. The other two GOP candidates haven’t released their first quarter numbers.
Pennsylvania: Casey raised $2.2 million and has $10 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. And Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Lou Barletta, raised $1.26 million and has $1.63 million cash on hand, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
North Dakota: Heitkamp raised $1.6 million and $5.3 million cash on hand while her GOP rival Kevin Cramer raised $1.13 million and has $1.86 million cash on hand, according to a local newspaper.
Nevada: Heller reportedly raised about $1.1 million. Rosen raised $2.57 million and has $3.5 million cash on hand, according to her FEC report.
Indiana: Donnelly raised $1.6 million and $6.4 million cash on hand, according to his FEC report.
Republican Rep. Luke Messer raised $389,000 and has $1.867 million cash on hand while GOP Rep. Todd Rokita raised $426,000 and had $1.86 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.
Arizona: Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema raised $2.5 million and has $6.69 cash on hand, according to FEC reports.
Republican candidate Martha McSally raised $2.75 million and has $3.18 million cash on hand, according to her campaign.
Of the other two GOP primary candidates, former state Sen. Kelli Ward raised $467,000 for her campaign and KelliPAC, an independent super PAC supporting her, raised another $500,000, according to her campaign.
And Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio raised more than $500,000 with $250,000 cash on hand, according to a local news report.
Texas: Cruz raised $3.2 million across three fundraising committees and has $8.2 million cash on hand, according to the Texas Tribune.
O’Rourke raised $6.7 million and has around $8 million in the bank, according to his campaign.
Wisconsin: Baldwin raised $3.7 million and has $7.8 million cash on hand. And in the GOP primary, Kevin Nicholson raised $1 million and has $800,000.00 cash on hand, while state Sen. Leah Vukmir raised nearly $600,000 and had around $650,000 cash on hand, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Montana: Tester raised $2 million and had $6.8 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports. He easily outraised his four GOP rivals, none of whom raised over 500,000, according to their FEC reports.
Ohio: Brown raised $3.3 million and had $11.8 million cash on hand, according to local reports.
Renacci raised about $4.5 million through his various fundraising committees and had $4.2 million in the bank, according to a campaign statement.
Tennessee: Former Gov. Phil Bredesen reported $3.2 million in the first quarter, which included a $1.4 million loan from himself. He has $1.7 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.
GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn raised $2 million and has $6 million cash on hand, according to her FEC filings.
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