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9 GOP Freshmen Have More Than $400K in Reserve

With just over a year left until Election Day, three freshman Republican lawmakers now sit on war chests of more than half a million dollars, and a total of nine have more than $400,000 in reserve.

Leading the way were a pair of Southern Republicans who won close races in 2002.

Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey raked in $249,000 over the three-month period and leads all GOP freshmen with $711,000 in the bank. Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers kept up a similarly torrid fundraising pace, banking $270,000 for the quarter with $618,000 on hand.

Rogers won with just 50 percent of the vote last year, and Gingrey won with 52 percent, though neither has a top-tier opponent yet for 2004 — thanks in part to their fundraising prowess.

Many of their fellow Republican freshmen who won by the narrowest of margins also worked overtime to pad their bank accounts in anticipation of more close races in the future.

Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez, who won in 2002 by just 121 votes, vacuumed up $183,000 for the quarter and now sits on a war chest of $467,000. The Colorado Legislature made his district far more favorable for 2004, and unless a court reverses that decision, Beauprez may not face major opposition next year.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.) took 48 percent of the vote last year and now has $344,000 on hand, though she reported only $68,000 raised in the quarter. The candidate she narrowly defeated, then-Rep. Karen Thurman (D), has declined to run in 2004, so Brown-Waite is considered to be in fairly good shape.

Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi, one of the GOP’s most vulnerable incumbents, brought in $123,000 and has $281,000 on hand, while Indiana Rep. Chris Chocola has $365,000 in reserve after banking $89,000 for the quarter. Renzi and Chocola won with 49 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

In addition to Rogers, Gingrey and Beauprez, six other freshmen reported more than $400,000 on hand: Georgia Rep. Max Burns ($478,000), Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach ($402,000), Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling ($519,000), Michigan Rep. Candice Miller ($442,000), New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce ($445,000) and Nevada Rep. Jon Porter ($402,000).

Of this group, Burns is considered the most vulnerable. Democrats have yet to find anyone to run against Porter in what is supposed to be a swing district outside of Las Vegas.

“These formidable early numbers coupled with the Democrat Party’s continued failure to recruit credible challengers make it incredibly difficult for the Democrats to expand the playing field,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.).

On the other end of the scale, a handful of first-term Republicans turned in less-than-stellar numbers. None raised less than Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, who took in just $29,000 over the three-month period and has $23,000 in reserve. Iowa Rep. Steve King did only slightly better, posting $38,000 for the quarter with $36,000 in the bank, while Ohio Rep. Mike Turner brought in $41,000 with $80,000 on hand.

Bishop, who was fined $7,600 by the Federal Election Commission last week for filing his 2002 post-election report 28 days late, King and Turner all represent solid Republican districts.

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