10 House Fundraising Reports to Watch

Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:35pm

Imminent third-quarter fundraising reports from both House incumbents and current candidates are likely to provide a glimpse into the future as to who may or may not be a member of the 114th Congress.

The reports will provide clues to a host of things, from which members of Congress may retire this cycle, to which candidates in crowded open-seat contests may elevate to front-runner status. Here are 10 to watch, in no particular order.

1 Ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies, Democrat; Pennsylvania’s 13th District

Last quarter, Margolies’ $185,000 haul put her at the bottom of the fundraising pack of the four Democrats running in this open-seat primary in the Philadelphia suburbs. The low total was surprising for a former member such as Margolies, who boasts close ties to many high-power political players, including her in-laws, the Clintons.

The pricey local broadcast market makes campaigns here costly. Margolies’ own polling shows she’s in a strong position to win the primary, but another paltry haul could jeopardize her front-runner status.

2 Ex-Rep. Joe Baca, Democrat; California’s 31st District

Baca raised just $38,000 last quarter to unseat GOP Rep. Gary G. Miller. It’s a minuscule sum for any House candidate, but especially for a former member. Baca will need more to knock off an incumbent, even someone as vulnerable as Miller.

But first, Baca must ward off three Democratic candidates — including Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, who has the support of the national party. Baca’s needs a stronger quarter to mount a serious comeback.

3 Erika Harold, Republican; Illinois’ 13th District

Harold is looking to unseat freshman Rep. Rodney Davis in the primary for this swing district in southern Illinois. But she raised only $78,000 in the second quarter, not nearly enough to compete with Davis, a fundraising powerhouse.

If Harold’s third-quarter total is as small as her previous haul, her fledgling bid may be over quickly. The GOP nominee will face former Judge Ann Callis, a top Democratic recruit, in 2014.

4 Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Republican;
Tennessee’s 4th District

Republicans have been gunning for DesJarlais since October 2012, when allegations surfaced that the anti-abortion-rights Republican had encouraged his then-wife and a mistress to have multiple abortions. DesJarlais won re-election anyway.

This cycle he faces a serious primary challenge from state Sen. Jim Tracy, a strong fundraiser who brought in $303,000 last quarter.

DesJarlais pulled in just $39,000 in the same time period, raising questions about how his support.

5 Rep. Melvin Watt, Democrat;
North Carolina’s 12th District

President Barack Obama nominated Watt for a top spot in his administration, but his confirmation has dragged on for months.

Watt has posted some of the lowest House fundraising numbers this cycle — $3,300 to date. Such a hauls suggests Watt is not looking to return to Congress after 2014, regardless. But if Watt steps up his fundraising this quarter, it would signal he’s making contingency plans to run again.

6 Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, Republican;
Michigan’s 11th District

Bentivolio has had a target on his back since he won the GOP primary last year, after Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter abruptly resigned. But his second-quarter haul of $65,000 was not indicative of a member looking to ward off a race.

Bentivolio faces a primary challenge from attorney David Trott, a local businessman who raised more than $425,000 in the month since he announced his bid, according to this third-quarter report. Democrats also want to target Bentivolio.

The congressman recently got fundraising support from House leaders, including Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio.

7 Rep. Collin C. Peterson, Democrat;
Minnesota’s 7th District

Retirement rumors swirled after Peterson posted just $94,000 in the second quarter. Democrats attributed the 12-term member’s quarter to his heavy involvement with the farm bill talks. The long-time GOP target plans to step up his fundraising Democrats said, which would address retirement rumors.

8 Rep. John F. Tierney, Democrat;
Massachusetts’ 6th District

For the second cycle in a row, Tierney ranks among the most vulnerable incumbents. He will likely face a rematch with the Republican who nearly ousted him in 2012, former state Sen. Richard Tisei.

Tierney raised a strong $214,000 haul in the second quarter. The House Ethics Committee dropped its inquiry of him last month, which could boost his numbers. But Tierney also picked up a primary opponent: veteran Seth Moulton. Tierney’s haul will shed light on how strongly Democrats feel about him.

9 Rep. Howard Coble, Republican;
North Carolina’s 6th District

Coble, who has been plagued by health troubles, raised just $37,000 in the second quarter, although he has said he will seek re-election if his health allows. Another low haul will only fuel retirement rumors.

10 Rep. Michael M. Honda, Democrat; California’s 17th District

Honda is at a severe cash disadvantage with his first formidable primary opponent in a decade: attorney Ro Khanna. Honda’s $346,000 second-quarter fundraising bounty was impressive by most standards, but it paled in comparison to Khanna’s $1 million haul.

This quarter, it will be interesting to see whether Honda steps it up — or if Khanna keeps up his momentum.

An earlier version stated that DesJarlais allegedly encouraged his wife to have an abortion. It should have specified that it was his wife at that time, not his current wife.