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House GOP Challengers Flush

Third-quarter campaign fundraising reports came due Wednesday, providing both parties with the latest snapshot of candidate recruiting efforts and Democrats with a reminder of the uphill battle they face in attempting to win back the House in 2004.

Only four Democratic challengers raised around $100,000 or more for the period covering July 1 through Sept. 30, according to a Roll Call analysis of third-quarter Federal Election Commission reports.

By comparison, at least half a dozen Republicans running against Democratic incumbents next year reported raising more than $100,000 in the quarter.

Attorney Diane Prescott (D), who is seeking to challenge freshman Rep. Rick Renzi (R) in Arizona’s 1st district, topped all other Democratic challengers in fundraising for the quarter, raking in a whopping $205,000.

Prescott, who showed $177,000 left in the bank on Sept. 30, is one of three Democrats who have announced that they are running in the Sept. 7, 2004, primary, but she was the only candidate to file a report with the FEC.

Meanwhile, in Washington state, high-tech industry executive Alex Alben raised $114,000 during the quarter, placing him second in fundraising among Democratic challengers.

Alben is running against Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.), who raised $225,000 and had almost $1.2 million in cash at the end of last month. Alben showed $103,000 in the bank on Sept. 30.

In two races Democrats regularly tout as among their best pick-up opportunities, challengers in Indiana and Georgia raised roughly $100,000 in the quarter.

Former Boston Celtics scout Jon Jennings ended September with about $100,000 left in reserves for his bid against five-term Rep. Jon Hostettler (R-Ind.). Hostettler, known for his paltry fundraising, raised $31,000 in the quarter and showed just $32,000 in cash on hand.

In Georgia, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow (D) raised $101,000 and banked $293,000 for his bid against freshman Rep. Max Burns (R).

The third quarter fundraising report for Burns, who has suffered a week’s worth of bad press following the termination of his chief of staff and widely reported anti-Semitic comments made by a supporter, was not available at press time Wednesday night.

Attorney Doug Haines is also seeking the 12th district Democratic nod and he reported raising $55,000 during the period.

Republicans, meanwhile, were touting the third quarter fundraising performance of six challengers, almost all of whom are running in targeted House races next year.

Again among the top Republican challengers in fundraising for the period was Florida state Rep. Bev Kilmer, who is challenging Rep. Allen Boyd (D) in the Florida Panhandle.

Kilmer, who outraised Boyd in the previous quarter, topped the $200,000 mark for the second time in as many quarters by raising almost $210,000. She showed $352,000 in reserve.

Kilmer is considered by Republicans to be one of their top recruits for the cycle and in that capacity she has benefited from the fundraising help of national party leaders.

Boyd, who had been exploring a Senate race in the event Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) does not run for re-election, raised $252,000 in the quarter and had $734,000 on hand. Boyd announced this week that he will not run for Senate.

While Kilmer is a first-time Congressional contender, many of the Republicans’ top fundraisers this cycle have been candidates who are seeking rematches following close losses in 2002.

In Utah, former state Rep. John Swallow (R) raised $181,000 and had $222,000 left in his campaign account as he seeks to knock off Rep. Jim Matheson (D) next year. Matheson, who defeated Swallow by just 1 point last cycle, raised $123,000 during the quarter but had $427,000 left in the bank.

In other rematches from last cycle, former Navy pilot Adam Taff (R), who lost to Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) in 2002, raised $103,000 and showed $282,000 in the bank. Moore raised $189,000 and had $490,000 in cash on hand.

In Kentucky, Rep. Ken Lucas (D) raised $97,000 and showed $381,000 in the bank. The report for his 2002 opponent Geoff Davis, who is running again, was not available by press time. However Republican sources indicated he was likely to report having raised in the ballpark of $100,000 for the quarter.

In Georgia’s 3rd district, Bibb County Commissioner Calder Clay (R) is running aggressively in his rematch with Rep. Jim Marshall (D), though his campaign report was not available Wednesday night. Marshall, who has said he is considering a Senate bid, raised just $40,000.

Joining Swallow, former NASCAR executive Kevin Triplett (R) is another challenger who outraised an incumbent in the quarter. Triplett is running against Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who has represented the southwestern 9th district since 1982.

Triplett, who began exploring a bid this summer and officially announced his candidacy three weeks ago, raised $142,000 and had $138,000 left in the bank on Sept. 30. Boucher raised almost $110,000 but showed a healthy $833,000 left in his campaign coffers.

Meanwhile, in Oregon’s 1st district where Republicans are targeting Rep. David Wu (D), two challengers posted substantial fundraising numbers.

Telecommunications consultant Goli Ameri raised $375,000, while brokerage house executive Tim Phillips raised $93,000. Wu raised $245,000 and had $1 million on hand.

The quarterly fundraising reports again highlighted the outright lack of Democratic challengers this cycle, just one year removed from the November 2004 election.

At least five freshman Republicans in competitive districts, including Reps. Mike Rogers (Ala.), Chris Chocola (Ind.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.) and Jon Porter (Nev.), still have no challengers. Democrats also have yet to field candidates against the two freshmen who ousted Democratic incumbents in 2002: Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.) and John Kline (Minn.). All of these Republicans but Porter were elected with less than 55 percent of the vote last cycle.

The new fundraising reports also show some trouble for two incumbents facing high-profile primary challenges in safely Democratic districts.

In Virginia, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kate Hanley (D) outraised Rep. Jim Moran (D) for the quarter. Meanwhile, Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-Mo.) reported raising a little more than $8,000, while former Council of Foreign Relations fellow Jamie Metzl reported raising $127,000.

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