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8 Senate Races to Watch as 4th Quarter Fundraising Ends

Hassan ignored a question from CQ Roll Call about her 2016 plans to greet two mounted police officers in Dover, N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The fourth quarter will be Hassan’s first to file as a Senate candidate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the end of the year comes the end of another fundraising quarter. And while campaigns are not required to file their quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31, now begins a month of speculation about who will end the year on a high note and who will ring in 2016 needing to step up their cash game.

New Hampshire: In the battle for the Senate, all eyes will be on New Hampshire, where Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan will be filing her first quarterly report since entering the race to unseat GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte in October. In what’s expected to be one of the most competitive races in the country, Hassan’s haul will be closely scrutinized to see how she compares to Ayotte, who has more than $5 million in cash on hand.

North Carolina: This will also be the first fundraising quarter for former state Rep. Deborah Ross , one of the Democrats vying to take on GOP Sen. Richard Burr. Ross has emerged as Washington Democrats’ preferred candidate after several top recruits, including former Sen. Kay Hagan, passed on the race, but she hasn’t received any formal endorsements from the D.C. establishment. This quarter will go a long way toward clarifying how competitive Ross will be against No. 7 on Roll Call’s list of the 10 most vulnerable senators .

Maryland Senate: Until primary day, fundraising reports are one of the few metrics available to assess who’s pulling away in intraparty matchups.

We’ll be watching to see whether the $1 million that EMILY’s List invested in TV and radio spots on her behalf can help Edwards close the gap before the April 26 primary.

Pennsylvania Senate: Three Democrats are vying for the nomination in the Keystone State, and with another fundraising quarter comes an opportunity to see how they compare.

Former Rep. Joe Sestak, who’s been in the race since March and continued raising money after his failed 2010 bid, ended last quarter with $2.4 million in his coffers. Never Washington’s or Pennsylvania’s favorite Democrat , he raised just $551,000 in the third quarter — a little more than half of what Katie McGinty , who entered the race this summer.

McGinty’s first fundraising report, filed in October, showed the former chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf raised $1 million in the third quarter with $892,000 in the bank. She brought on former Gov. Ed Rendell as campaign chair in August and has since scored the endorsement of her former boss , which is expected to boost her fundraising.

McGinty and Sestak were joined this fall by Braddock Mayor John Fetterman. The 6-foot-8 former offensive tackle has the tattoos and unconventional background to garner national media attention, but Democratic consultants have been waiting to see what kind of money he can raise. Fetterman brought in $169,000 during the third quarter, after only being in the race for several weeks, so the fourth quarter will be his first real test ahead of the April 26 primary.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has one of the largest campaign war chests , valued at $8.6 million at the end of the third quarter.

Illinois Senate: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s endorsed candidates have so far outpaced their Democratic rivals in fundraising, including in Illinois, where Rep. Tammy Duckworth outraised both Democratic rival Andrea Zopp and GOP Sen. Mark S. Kirk last quarter.

This quarter, look to see whether Duckworth catches up to Kirk’s cash on hand advantage. And Zopp’s fourth quarter haul should be indicative of her campaign’s sustainability. She raised just $440,000 in the third quarter — less than the $671,000 she raised in just six weeks in the previous quarter.

Ohio Senate: DSCC-endorsed former Gov. Ted Strickland has been raising a lot more than P.G. Sittenfeld, his Democratic primary opponent. But it’s not clear Strickland is yet raising enough money to take on an incumbent with one of the most well-endowed campaign coffers in the Senate.

In the fourth quarter, we’ll be watching to see whether and by how much the gap between Strickland and Sittenfeld widens, and whether Strickland can narrow the gap with Sen. Rob Portman.

Florida Senate: When No. 12 in Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress Index is running in a competitive Senate race, fundraising reports always have the potential to be interesting. Next quarter, look to see how much more of his own money 9th District Rep. Alan Grayson kicks into his campaign.

So far, Grayson has kept his self-funding to a minimum (relative to what he could do). Even with a $100,000 loan to his campaign last quarter, Grayson only raised about half that of 18th District Rep. Patrick Murphy. And Murphy, who’s backed by the DSCC, ended the period with more cash on hand than any other candidate — Democrat or Republican.

Republicans have an even more crowded primary field, and the fourth quarter should give more indication of how the three leading candidates stack.

Indiana Senate: And in another primary for an open Senate seat, Republicans will be interested to see how Rep. Marlin Stutzman is doing after several campaign shakeups deposed well-respected Republican consultants.

Fellow Hoosier Rep. Todd Young had outraised Stutzman, but Stutzman held his own in the third quarter, raising $619,000 to Young’s $721,000. (Young, however, had more than twice what Stutzman did in the bank at the end of the quarter.)

Stutzman thought he’d be getting help from the Club for Growth, which backed him earlier this year, but as Nathan Gonzales pointed out last week, Stutzman wasn’t included in the group’s end-of-the-year fundraising email, a potentially troubling sign for a candidate looking to close a substantial fundraising gap.


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