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Wealthy Republican Candidates Seek House

Talk about expensive real estate: A House seat can easily cost millions.

Every cycle, a few wealthy candidates dig into their deep pockets to fund their own campaigns. This cycle is on track to be no different — except that Republicans dominate the ranks of potentially self-funding congressional candidates.

Democrats constituted some of the richest candidates of 2012, including Reps. John Delaney of Maryland, Suzan DelBene of Washington and Scott Peters of California. All three made Roll Call’s 50 Richest list this year.

But in 2014, Republicans boast far more self-funders among their recruits — at least nine so far. In alphabetical order, here are the candidates most likely to financially fuel their own campaigns this cycle:

Businessman Rick Allen, Republican

Allen is challenging Democratic Rep. John Barrow in Georgia’s elusive 12th District. But first he faces a potentially competitive primary in his second attempt for the seat.

So far this cycle, the construction company owner has loaned his campaign $10,000. That’s small change compared to 2012, when Allen put in $640,000 from his own pocketbook (via loans and contributions). He lost the primary to a state lawmaker.

Republicans have — again — named Barrow as a top target in 2014. Allen’s financial largess makes him a GOP favorite to defeat Barrow.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Leans Democratic

Attorney George Demos, Republican

Demos is running in a competitive GOP primary to challenge Democratic Rep. Timothy H. Bishop in New York’s 1st District. When Demos ran for the House in 2012, he raised and spent around $350,000, according to PoliticalMoney Line.

Demos acquired his wealth fairly recently. Since his last campaign, he married the daughter of Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, a major Democratic donor and chairman of AKT Development Corporation, a real estate firm.

Demos has already loaned his campaign $1 million this cycle.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Leans Democratic

Former state Rep. Carl Domino, Republican

Domino is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy in Florida’s 18th District. The successful investment manager is running in a top district for Republicans in 2014.

Last cycle, candidates and campaigns spent nearly $30 million on the seat. Murphy already has $1.4 million in cash on hand.

So far, Domini has loaned his campaign $125,000. But there’s more where that came from: He put $1.3 million of his own cash into four winning and three losing campaigns for local office, according to the The Palm Beach Post.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Tilts Democratic

Autism activist Elizabeth Emken, Republican

Emken’s bid to unseat freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., marks her third attempt in as many cycles to come to Congress. Each time, she’s shown a willingness to reach into her own pockets to help her campaign.

So far, Emken has put $285,000 into her campaign this cycle. The race for California’s 7th District is a brutal battle for the top two spots next November: Bera faces three Republicans, Emken, former Rep. Doug Ose and former Capitol Hill aide Igor Birman.

Before seeking office, Emken worked at IBM in management, financial analysis and corporate operations and later was an executive for an autism nonprofit, according to her official biography.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Leans Democratic

Venture capitalist Sean Eldridge, Democrat

Eldrige would likely be the youngest member of Congress, if he can oust Republican Rep. Chris Gibson in New York’s 19th District. The 28-year-old acquired his wealth the old-fashioned way: through marriage.

The husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, Eldridge has contributed $465,000 to his race so far. In the second and third quarters of this year, he matched individual donations from his personal fortune. But the moneyed couple’s wealth backfired last summer, after The New York Times published an unflattering catalogue of Eldridge’s move to the district and his political connections.

Nonetheless, Republicans privately concede that Eldridge — and his deep pockets — worries them.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Tilts Republican

Former state Rep. Phil Krinkie, Republican

Krinkie is one of a few Republicans looking to replace retiring Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s exurban 6th District. The owner of Snelling Company, a local heating and cooling company, has already put $300,000 of his own funds toward his bid.

Krinkie faces three other well-known Republicans in the primary, including former state Rep. Tom Emmer. Many local Republicans consider Emmer to be the front-runner, but they also argue that the race is fractured — as are local donors. That only makes Krinkie’s ability to fund his campaign more important.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Safe Republican

Businessman Stewart Mills, Republican

Minnesota Republicans like to compare the long-haired, handsome Mills to Brad Pitt. But he’s most famous locally for Mills Fleet Farm, his family’s retail chain of outdoor appliance and apparel stores.

Mills serves as the company’s vice president. Republicans are optimistic he will be able to fund his bid against Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat in the 8th District.

Mills has not loaned or donated a large amount of money to his campaign yet, according to online records. But he’s suggested he might do so soon, recently telling The Star-Tribune, “I’m not going to ask my donors to do something I’m not willing to do for myself.”

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Leans Democratic

Former Rep. Nan Hayworth, Republican

Hayworth is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in their second matchup for New York’s Hudson Valley-centric 18th District. In 2012, CQ Roll Call estimated the ophthalmologist’s wealth to be about $12.3 million. Her husband is the CEO of Mount Kisco Medical Group.

So far, Hayworth has loaned her campaign $132,000 (and repaid part of that) — but she’s shown a willingness to spend more on races. In 2010, she gave her campaign more than $500,000 in loans and contributions.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Favored Democratic

Former Rep. Doug Ose, Republican

Ose was a regular on Roll Call’s 50 Richest list of wealthiest members during his three terms in the 2000s.

After an unsuccessful 2008 comeback bid, Ose is one of a trio of Republicans looking to oust Bera in the California 7th. Ose’s 2008 campaign proved his pockets are deep: He spent more than $4 million of his money on loans and contributions. At the time, the Sacramento Bee described his wealth as based in “family partnerships worth at least $117 million, including burgeoning investments in real estate, stocks, farm land and mini-storage facilities.”

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Leans Democratic

Attorney David Trott, Republican

Trott is challenging freshman Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in Michigan’s 11th District. Trott is president and managing attorney of his own law firm, Trott & Trott.

In his first month of campaigning, Trott put more than $200,000 into his race against the vulnerable freshman. His most recent fundraising report also shows he keeps wealthy company. He raised nearly $650,000 in less than a month of campaigning.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Favored Republican

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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