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Who Had the Best Fundraising Quarter?

Key Senate races show divide in funding

Portman has $13.5 million in cash on hand. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Portman has $13.5 million in cash on hand. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Senate primaries underway, many candidates are touting their fundraising prowess ahead of the general election to show they have the resources to win.  

Several Republicans who won their seats in the 2010 GOP wave now have to defend them in a presidential year, when Democrats tend to have higher turnout. Some of these candidates have posted strong numbers, but a couple of Democratic challengers also pulled in impressive hauls.  

Here are some winners and losers for the April quarterly fundraising numbers submitted this week.  

Winner: The Republican Firewall Many of the Republicans who won their first races in 2010 are still sitting on mountains of cash. Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania all reported raising at least $2 million in the first quarter, according to the reports due midnight Wednesday.  

Winner: Rob Portman The Republican senator, who raised $2.4 million in the fist quarter, has more than $13.5 million in cash on hand, which should help him in a year where Ohio will be a key battlefield in the presidential race. His Democratic opponent, former governor Ted Strickland, raised $1.5 million in the first quarter and has $2.7 million in cash on hand.  

Winner: Russ Feingold The former Wisconsin senator is running in a rematch against Johnson, who beat him in 2010. While Feingold is an ardent supporter of campaign finance reform, his campaign nonetheless reported  raising $3.35 million in the first quarter, more than $1 million greater than Johnson’s haul.  

Loser: Joe 
Sestak Despite barely losing to Toomey in 2010, Sestak has raised less money than both his opponent in the Democratic primary and the Republican incumbent.  

The former congressman has effectively been shunned by Democrats statewide and nationally in favor of former Bill Clinton adviser Katie McGinty, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and President Barack Obama.  

And McGinty has the fundraising numbers to show it. Her campaign reported to the Federal Election Commission that she raised $1.7 million between January and April of this year.  

Sestak’s official campaign received about $640,000 in the first quarter. In addition, his super PAC raised slightly less than $830,000 in the same period. Toomey raised $2.4 million in that period.  

Loser: Mark S. Kirk Kirk has one of the biggest targets on his back. He’s a Republican senator in a blue state in a presidential year who occupies the seat once held by President Barack Obama. His Democratic opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, is backed by her party’s establishment.  

Kirk raised $1.2 million this past quarter compared to $2.1 million raised by Duckworth. Kirk’s ads have focused either on his recovery since his stroke in 2012  or on the importance of national security in light of terror attacks in the United States and Europe.  

Loser: Richard Burr  The North Carolina Republican senator sits in what should be a safe race. A number of Democrats, including former Sen. Kay Hagan, declined  to face the two-term incumbent. Then in October, former state legislator Deborah Ross stepped up to challenge him.  

Now Ross is outpacing Burr in fundraising, bringing in $1.29 million in the first quarter, compared to Burr’s $1.1 million. Burr still has $5.8 million in cash on hand as of the end of March, which gives him an advantage. But with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee backing Ross and a tough governor’s race in the state, he will need better fundraising to stay vital.  

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