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7 Key Numbers From Second Quarter Fundraising

McSally raised $1 million in the second quarter, a huge sum for a House member. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
McSally raised $1 million in the second quarter, a huge sum for a House member. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the 2016 elections still more than a year away, a dive into quarterly fundraising reports is one of the best ways to assess the viability of campaigns.  

Those who add to their war chests by consistently raising large sums show strength. While those who underperform accumulate doubt.  

Reports cover the three-month period from April 1 to June 30, and were due to the Federal Election Commission by midnight on July 15.  

Here are seven notable numbers from second-quarter fundraising reports:  

1. Embattled member still raises cash:
Scandal-plagued  Rep Frank C. Guinta, R-N.H., was publicly admonished in May by the Federal Election Commission, which found he accepted an illegal $355,000 loan from his parents to fund his 2010 campaign. Guinta agreed to pay back the illegal contribution and pay a $15,000 fine — an episode many predicted would grind his fundraising to a halt. Yet Guinta managed to raise $114,000 in the second quarter, including individual and PAC contributions given after the FEC incident.  

Guinta now has $307,000 in cash on hand, ultimately a small sum in what’s expected to be one of the most contested House contests in the country. Guinta is a top Democratic target, and is likely to face a primary against Republican Dan Innis, whom Guinta defeated in 2014.  

2. Challengers who out-raised incumbents:  It’s rare for challengers to raise more than incumbents, whose positions as elected officials give them a leg up on the fundraising game.  

But in at least two high-profile contests, challengers did just that.  

Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., raised $2.2 million in the second quarter — his first as an announced candidate. That’s $200,000 more than his GOP opponent, freshman Sen. Ron Johnson. Feingold reported $2 million in cash on hand, while Johnson has $2.75 million in the bank ahead of the Tossup race.  

At the House level, former Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., raised more than Rep. Robert J. Dold — the Republican he’s running a rematch against. Schneider raised $625,000 while Dold brought in $600,000 in the same time period. Dold has more cash in his war chest, banking $1.04 million to Schneider’s $483,000. The contest, located in the suburban Chicago-based 10th District, will be one of the most competitive House races in the country.  

3. Disappointing Senate hauls:  Locked in a Democratic primary for Maryland’s open Senate seat, Rep. Donna Edwards’ campaign raised just $590,000 in the second quarter. While the haul is a step up from what she raised in the first quarter, Edwards ended June with less than $1 million in cash on hand. It’s a meager amount for Maryland, where it’s expensive to run campaign ads. And it’s far less than the $3.5 million her chief rival, fellow Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, had in the bank as of June 30.  

In Ohio, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld’s fundraising fell off dramatically in his primary bid for the Democratic nod to take on GOP Sen. Rob Portman.  

Sittenfeld raised just $272,000 in the second quarter, according to the Columbus Dispatch , and had $725,000 in cash on hand. That’s far less than the $757,000 Sittenfeld brought in last quarter. The sudden drop-off in his fundraising does not bode well for Sittenfeld’s primary against former Gov. Ted Strickland, national Democrats’ choice in this top-tier race. Strickland raised $1 million in the second quarter, and reported having $1.2 million in the bank.  

Both Democrats were ultimately decimated by Portman, who raised a massive $2.9 million in the second quarter and reported a whopping $10 million in cash on hand, according to his campaign.  

4. A huge House haul:  As a rule, House members usually raise less than their Senate counterparts, since their races are confined to smaller geographic areas and have less intrigue. But at least one House incumbent posted a second-quarter haul worthy of a statewide candidate.  

Rep. Martha McSally, the freshman Arizona Republican who will be a top Democratic target in 2016, raised $1.05 million in the second quarter. The quarter brought her total cash on hand to $1.43 million. Both numbers could scare potential top Democratic challengers from challenging McSally — who won her election in 2014 by the slimmest margin in the country.  

5. Most improved incumbents:  In the first quarter, a handful of incumbents posted fundraising figures that cast doubt on whether they were even seeking re-election. But second quarter numbers show these incumbents put a priority on dialing for dollars.  

Freshman California Republican Rep. Steve Knight, who raised just $29,000 in the first three months of the year, vastly improved his fundraising. Knight reported raising $404,000 from April through June, and had $385,000 in the bank for his re-election bid in California’s 25th District.  

Rep. Dan Benishek is also one of the most improved of the quarter. The Michigan Republican brought in just $115,000 in the first three months of the year — the same time he decided to break a three-term pledge and run for re-election again. But this quarter, Benishek brought in $415,000, and reported $435,000 in cash on hand.  

6. Incumbents widen cash advantage:  Freshmen GOP Reps. Bruce Poliquin of Maine and Will Hurd of Texas are two top targets of Democrats who are running rematches in races rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call.

But both vastly outpaced their likely Democratic opponents in second quarter fundraising.

Poliquin continued to dominate Democrat Emily Cain, bringing in $379,000 to Cain’s $167,000. While Poliquin raised much less than the $702,000 he took in in the first three months of the year, his second quarter helped him widen his cash-on-hand advantage against Cain. Poliquin reported $947,000 in the bank, while Cain reported $238,000.

Hurd, on the other hand, raised $468,000 in the second quarter, and brought his cash on hand to $686,000. Former Rep. Pete Gallego, a Democrat who is back for a rematch, raised $224,000 and trailed with only $174,000 in cash on hand.

7. House Democrats raise big, despite threats from labor: A fight over trade cast doubt over whether Democrats, who heavily rely on labor for fundraising, could keep pace in the second quarter. But two Democrats whom labor targeted over their support for President Barack Obama’s trade agenda still brought in impressive hauls.

California Democratic Reps. Ami Bera and Scott Peters brought in $423,000 and $504,000, respectively. Both represent competitive seats where it’s expensive to run elections (Bera’s seat is in the Sacramento area and Peters’ is in San Diego), and neither have top-tier challengers from either party.

Bera, who labor threatened to put up a candidate against in 2016, had $686,000 in cash on hand. Peters, whose GOP opponent Jacquie Atkinson did not file her fundraising report as of the July 15 deadline, had $741,000 in cash on hand.


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