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Member vs. member House races top $6.5 million in first quarter

Trump-endorsed incumbents lag their opponents

Despite receiving the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney did not raise the most money during the first quarter of this year in his primary race against a Republican colleague.
Despite receiving the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney did not raise the most money during the first quarter of this year in his primary race against a Republican colleague. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 10 sitting House members who will face a fellow incumbent in upcoming primaries raised a combined $6.5 million in the first quarter of the year, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of new filings to the Federal Election Commission.

The fundraising receipts offer clues about the dynamics of those races, all of which came about because of redistricting. None of the members stand out as fundraising all-stars and only one, Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens of Michigan, hauled in more than $1 million during the first three months of the year, the FEC filings show.  

On the GOP side, those in member vs. member races who have the endorsement of former President Donald Trump lagged in fundraising behind their opponents during the quarter. 

Eight of the members are in states like Michigan that are losing a congressional seat in the next Congress, while two are in Georgia, where Republican state lawmakers redrew the state’s 6th District, currently held by Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath, to be more favorable to their party. McBath is now challenging fellow Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District in a primary set for May 24. 

McBath reported raising $804,000 for the first quarter to Bourdeaux’s $593,000. McBath drew in more small-dollar donors, with about $184,000 in contributions under $200, to Bourdeaux’s $44,000 from smaller donors. Both McBath and Bourdeaux have said they won’t accept donations from political action committees tied to specific corporations, and neither recorded much in the way of donations from all PACs, including leadership PACs, which lawmakers use to dole out contributions to their colleagues.   

McBath pulled in about $35,000 in PAC money to Bourdeaux’s $13,000. McBath held $2.9 million cash on hand as of March 31, while Bourdeaux had $2.1 million. 

Stevens, who is running against fellow Democratic Rep. Andy Levin in Michigan’s 11th District, disclosed raising $1.1 million in the first three months heading into the Aug. 2 primary. Levin’s campaign reported just shy of $770,000. Stevens’ campaign reported nearly $170,000 in contributions from PACs, including those of Boston Scientific Corp., Toyota Motor North America, Amazon and Raytheon. Levin reported $65,000 from PACs in the first quarter, including from those of AT&T, Ford Motor Co. and the Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. Stevens reported $2.8 million cash on hand to Levin’s $1.5 million. 

‘Tricky situation’

Kristin Brackemyre, director of PAC and government relations for the Public Affairs Council, said member vs. member races can put big donors, such as company or association PACs, in an uncomfortable situation. 

“It’s definitely something that’s handled on a case-by-case basis, particularly if both incumbents are champions and supporters,” she said. “That can be a tricky situation.”

Some PACs will opt to donate to both members, while other PACs will just stay out of a race altogether, she said. Other times, they’ll pick one. Groups that hold back on donations may offer contributions after the primary for the general election or toward debt retirement. 

“It’s definitely trickier if it’s a district where you have a major presence and you want to make sure you’ve built a relationship with whichever member comes out on the other side,” Brackemyre said. 

Newman trailing

Voters in two Illinois districts, one that favors Democrats and the other a GOP stronghold, will face primaries between members on June 28.

In the contest between Illinois Democratic Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman in the state’s 6th District, Casten, a two-term member, has outraised Newman across all categories, including from PACs and small-dollar donors. Casten reported raising nearly $800,000 to Newman’s $230,000 in the first quarter. He had $2 million cash on hand to her $500,000. Newman, who is in her first term after beating then-Rep. Dan Lipinski in a primary in March 2020, has been the subject of an ethics probe

In the state’s 15th District, a Republican stronghold, five-term GOP Rep. Rodney Davis is running against first-term Rep. Mary Miller, a controversial member who has Trump’s backing but has posted lackluster fundraising receipts. Davis hauled in just shy of $1 million with $936,000 in the first quarter, including $615,000 from PACs. He held $1.9 million in the bank as of March 31. 

Miller, who in her first days in office apologized for praising Hitler, received more than $330,000 in contributions during the first quarter, including just $6,400 from PACs. She edged out Davis in small-dollar donations, $123,000 to $38,000. Miller had more than $500,000 cash on hand as of March 31.   

Trump is also backing West Virginia Rep. Alex X. Mooney over Rep. David McKinley as the two face off in a primary caused by the state losing one of its three House seats to reapportionment. McKinely, who like Mooney voted against impeachment and actually voted to support Trump’s position on bills more often, was attacked by the former president for voting to support the bipartisan infrastructure package. 

McKinley narrowly won the fundraising race in the first quarter, taking in $482,000 to $465,000.

But Mooney, who is also facing ethics inquiries into his use of campaign and public funds, ended the quarter with $1.4 million in his campaign fund, while McKinley had less than $1.1 million.

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