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4 takeaways from Senate fundraising reports

Vulnerable Senate Democrats continue to bolster their campaign coffers

It’s still early in the 2022 election cycle, but new fundraising reports show that campaign donations are continuing to flow to races that will determine control of the Senate.

The four vulnerable Senate Democrats have continued to bolster their campaign war chests, raising a combined $19.2 million from April through June and finishing the quarter with $31.3 million in their accounts. The two vulnerable Senate Republicans seeking reelection, Florida’s Marco Rubio and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, raised a combined total of $5.2 million, ending the quarter with nearly $8 million on hand.

Senate candidates competing in the eight states that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates as battlegrounds are also already spending their campaign funds, as campaigns broadly embrace early investments in online fundraising. Of the $49 million that battleground candidates raised in the second quarter, 40 percent, or $20.4 million, was also spent from April through June. 

Here are four takeaways from the latest fundraising reports:

1. Vulnerable Democrats widen cash gap

Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia have each picked up more GOP challengers in recent months, but those challengers have some catching up to do to compete with the two Democrats’ robust fundraising. 

Kelly raised $6 million in the second quarter and had $7.6 million in the bank on June 30. On the GOP side, energy executive Jim Lamon raised $2.2 million, but that included a $2 million personal loan from the candidate and he had $1.2 million left in his campaign account. Two other Republicans, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and retired Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire, raised $438,000 and $426,000 respectively. Both candidates launched their runs in early June, with less than a month before the quarter ended. 

Warnock raised $7.2 million, outpacing his GOP challengers as well. Retired Navy SEAL Latham Saddler, who worked in the Trump administration, came closest to the incumbent, raising $1.4 million, while state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who launched his campaign in early June, raised $703,000.

The two other vulnerable Democratic senators, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, have continued to fill their campaign coffers as they await well-funded challengers. Cortez Masto raised $2.8 million, while Hassan raised $3.3 million. Both combined for a total of nearly $6.6. million in their campaign accounts on June 30. 

2. Vulnerable Republicans face a few well-funded opponents 

The two GOP senators in battleground states have attracted a few well-funded opponents who have matched their own fundraising. 

Rubio was outraised by his chief Democratic challenger, Rep. Val B. Demings, who took in $4.7 million to the senator’s $4 million. But Rubio still has a larger campaign war chest, ending the quarter with nearly $6.3 million to Demings’ $3.1 million.

Johnson stepped up his fundraising efforts from April to June, more than doubling his haul from the first quarter. He raised $1.2 million and had $1.7 million on hand on June 30. Democrat Alex Lasry, whose father co-owns the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, raised $1 million, and did not contribute a substantial amount of own money in the second quarter. The next highest Democratic fundraisers include state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who raised $514,000, and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, who raised $240,000.

3. Money flows to open seats

Two battleground Senate races are open-seat contests, with Republicans Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina retiring. 

In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman continued to outpace the Democratic field, raising $2.5 million in the second quarter. Val Arkoosh, who chairs the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, had the next highest haul among Democrats, raising $1 million, followed by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta with $503,000.

Real estate developer Jeff Bartos led the Republican field, raising $1 million, including a $440,00 loan from Bartos himself. Political commentator Kathy Barnette was next with $595,000, followed by Army veteran Sean Parnell who raised $561,000 since launching his Senate campaign in mid-May.

In North Carolina, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley led the Democratic field with $1.3 million raised, besting state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who took in $719,000. On the Republican side, former Gov. Pat McCrory had the biggest quarter, raising $1.2 million, compared to $954,000 for Rep. Ted Budd, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, and $203,000 for former Rep. Mark Walker. Budd’s total included a $250,000 personal loan to his campaign.

Campaign donations are also flowing to non-battleground states that are also playing host to open-seat Senate races, thanks to the retirement of Republicans Rob Portman of Ohio, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama.

Ohio Senate candidates raised a combined $10.9 million, led by Republican investment banker Mike Gibbons, whose $6.2 million quarter total included a $5.7 million personal loan to his campaign. 

Missouri Senate candidates raised a combined $2.8 million, while Senate hopefuls in Alabama combined to pull in $3.2 million. In the GOP primary, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, whom Trump has endorsed, was outraised by Katie Britt, who served as Shelby’s chief of staff. Britt raised $2.2 million to Brooks’ $824,000 in the second quarter. 

4. Retirement watch senators still raising 

Three GOP senators up for reelection, including Johnson, Iowa’s Charles E. Grassley and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, have not yet said whether they will run again. But all three continued to bolster their campaign coffers during the second quarter. 

Grassley raised the lowest of the three, bringing in $625,000, but he ended the quarter with $2.5 million on hand. 

Murkowski raised $1.1 million, besting her GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka, the former head of Alaska’s Department of Administration, whom Trump endorsed last month. Tshibaka raised $544,000 in the second quarter.

Ryan Kelly contributed to this report.

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