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Nine Senators Have Banked $5M

New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) continued to set the fundraising pace among the 34 Senators up for re-election in 2004, ending June with nearly $22 million in the bank.

He is one of five Democratic Senators with more than $5 million on hand, according to July quarterly reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The others were Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Tom Daschle (S.D.) and Patty Murray (Wash.). A sixth, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D), ended the period with $4.8 million in the bank.

Republicans have four $5-million-dollar men of their own, led by Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who ended the quarter with $11.6 million.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), George Voinovich and Kit Bond (Mo.) also closed the quarter with more than $5 million on hand. Rep. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. John Edwards (D), showed $6.6 million left to spend at the end of the period — the highest total of any nonincumbent candidate of either party.

For both Schumer and Shelby, their eye-popping money totals were amassed to scare away potential top-tier opponents, a strategy that has paid off for both.

Schumer’s main opponent in November is little-known state Assemblyman Howard Mills (R), who banked just $204,000 in his July quarterly report.

Schumer, however, has been repeatedly mentioned as a candidate for governor in 2006 and under Empire State law would be allowed to transfer any excess funds in a federal account to a state fundraising committee.

For now, Schumer is being courted to donate a chunk of his cash to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. So far this cycle, Schumer has given $5,000 to the DSCC but has done a large amount of fundraising for the committee, a committee official emphasized.

Shelby’s motivations for his cash stash are less clear as he faces perennial candidate Wayne Sowell (D) in the fall. Sowell has not yet filed a financial report with the Federal Election Commission.

Alabama Republican Gov. Bob Riley will stand for re-election in 2006, and Shelby is not likely to relinquish the chairmanship of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which he can hold for another four years — assuming Republicans keep control of the Senate.

The reports, which cover contributions and expenditures from April 1 to June 30, represent the high-water mark of fundraising for the cycle as from this point forward most of the Senators will be spending far more than they raise into their war chests.

The South Dakota Senate race between Daschle and former Rep. John Thune (R) is likely to be among the most expensive races of the cycle and led the way in funds raised over the past three months.

Thune brought in $3.9 million between April 1 and June 30 compared to Daschle’s $3.1 million raised.

Combined, the two men have already raised nearly $20 million so far this cycle and have roughly $10 million left on hand.

The Daschle-Thune race is set to shatter the state spending record set last cycle in the Senate contest between Thune and Sen. Tim Johnson (D). In that race, the two sides disbursed $12 million. Daschle has already spent better than $9 million; Thune has spent $2.2 million.

Few other Senate Democrats are in serious danger of losing their re-election bids. The two most-often mentioned, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, are on solid financial ground.

Murray, the immediate past chairwoman of the DSCC, raised $1.8 million in the quarter and ended with a whopping $5.95 million left to spend.

Her opponent, 5th district Rep. George Nethercutt (R), raised an even more impressive $2.2 million in the past three months but still lags more than $3 million behind Murray in cash on hand.

In Wisconsin, Feingold closed the quarter with $3.9 million in the bank — more than four times what any of his three potential Republican opponents had on hand. Two of those GOPers — car dealer Russ Darrow and construction company executive Tim Michels — have personal wealth and have already shown a willingness to donate it to their campaigns, however.

The pickings are equally slim among Republican Senators, with appointed Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) seen as the one GOP incumbent in real trouble. She was outraised for the second straight quarter by former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) and saw her cash-on-hand lead nearly halved.

Missouri Sen. Kit Bond’s $5.4 million on hand total further suppressed talk that state Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D) was gaining any real traction in her challenge to the three-term Republican Senator.

Farmer raised $750,000 in the period but had just $1.2 million on hand.

Democrats were slightly more encouraged by the fundraising matchup in Kentucky, where state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo (D) is trying to knock off Sen. Jim Bunning (R).

Mongiardo outraised Bunning by $80,000 thanks to a $500,000 personal donation. But Bunning had $3.9 million on hand to Mongiardo’s paltry $624,000.