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Fundraising shows Democrats prepping for battle in both chambers

Average battleground Democrat raised 21 percent more in first quarter

Rep. David Trone, a Democrat vying for Maryland’s open Senate seat, has loaned his campaign $41.8 million this election cycle.
Rep. David Trone, a Democrat vying for Maryland’s open Senate seat, has loaned his campaign $41.8 million this election cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vulnerable House Democrats were more successful fundraisers during the first quarter of this year than Republican incumbents facing similar races, new fundraising disclosures show.

The average Democrat in a race rated as competitive by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales raised 21 percent more — $822,000 vs. $677,000 — than a similarly situated Republican, a CQ Roll Call analysis of filings with the Federal Election Commission found.

Battleground incumbents in both parties had an average of $2 million in their campaign accounts at the end of the quarter on March 31, although the Republican average bankroll was slightly larger.

Seven Democrats and five Republicans in the group raised more than $1 million, led by Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, who took in $1.7 million, and Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, who raised $1.5 million. 

The averages do not include New York Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is in a competitive race in November but only became an incumbent in February when he flipped the open 3rd District seat. From January through March, Suozzi raised $6.9 million, and he had $1.1 million on March 31.

Senate Democrats also posted some huge numbers, especially in races rated Toss-up by Inside Elections. Sen. Sherrod Brown raised $12.1 million to defend his seat in Ohio, while Montana Sen. Jon Tester raised $8 million. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is vying for the open seat in Arizona, raised $7.5 million. That far outpaced their challengers, but Brown’s and Tester’s opponents are wealthy businessmen who can make up shortfalls.

Here are nine other takeaways from the latest FEC filings: 

California cash dash

Democratic challengers in California far outpaced Republicans in several key House districts that Joe Biden would have won in 2020 had the current boundaries been in place. 

Adam Gray, a former state assemblymember running against Rep. John Duarte in the 13th District, raised more than $1 million in the first quarter. Duarte, a Republican who beat Gray by fewer than 600 votes in 2022, raised $580,000.

In another closely watched Central Valley contest, Democrat Rudy Salas brought in $1.3 million. His GOP opponent, Rep. David Valadao, raised $672,000, although Valadao had $1.6 million in hand to Salas’ $754,000. The 22nd District race is rated Tilt Republican.

In a Toss-up race in the 27th District, north of Los Angeles, aerospace entrepreneur George Whitesides significantly outraised GOP Rep. Mike Garcia. Whitesides brought in $1.3 million since the start of the year. He had previously loaned his campaign more than $1 million but his most recent filings showed no additional loans. Whitesides had about $3 million in the bank as of March 31, compared with Garcia’s $1.8 million.

Republican incumbents in two other Biden districts fared better. Rep. Michelle Steel in California’s 45th District and Rep. Young Kim in the 40th District both handily outraised their Democratic challengers.

In two other competitive California races, Democrats also posted strong fundraising quarters. In an open battleground district in Orange County, Democratic state Sen. Dave Min outraised Republican Scott Baugh. Min, who is seeking to succeed Democratic Rep. Katie Porter in the 47th District, brought in $683,000 to Baugh’s $453,000. But Baugh retains a big cash advantage, with $1.9 million in his campaign account as of March 31, to Min’s $425,000.

And in the 41st District, former federal prosecutor Will Rollins raised $1.9 million in the first quarter, which pushed his overall campaign war chest past $3 million. His Republican opponent, Rep. Ken Calvert, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation, raised $1 million during the quarter and had $2.6 million on hand.

Menendez woes

With a trial on bribery and corruption charges looming next month, Sen. Bob Menendez virtually stopped raising money for reelection but continued to hold a big bankroll. His filing showed just $971 raised from donors during the first quarter, during which the New Jersey Democrat spent $596,000, including $550,000 for legal expenses. He had nearly $5.7 million on March 31, however, and that balance threw off $71,000 in interest during the quarter.

Menendez also reported raising $189,000 in a separate legal defense fund, from which he spent $173,000. While he did not file to run in New Jersey’s June 4 primary, Menendez has said he may file to run as an independent in November if, as he expects, he is not convicted at trial. 

Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who launched a campaign for Menendez’s seat a day after the senator was indicted, had net receipts of $3.1 million during the quarter, including $2.1 million from donors giving $200 or less. He finished the quarter with $4.2 million in his account. 

Tammy Murphy, the wife of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy who ended her campaign for the seat after Kim won a court ruling to overturn a primary layout system that helped party organizations sway primaries, finished the quarter with $2.1 million. Kim’s remaining Democratic opponents, Patricia Campos-Medina and Larry Hamm, had $44,000 and $14,000, respectively, on March 31.

Republicans Curtis Bashaw and Christine Serrano Glassner had $825,000 and $353,000, respectively. Bashaw’s total includes $600,000 in personal loans, while Serrano Glassner has put $300,000 of her own money into the race.

Santos goose egg

Expelled former Rep. George Santos, who also awaits trial on criminal charges, got attention last month when he used his floor privileges as a former member at the State of the Union and announced he would seek a comeback by challenging Republican Rep. Nick LaLota. 

But there was hardly a groundswell of support from donors: Santos filed a report showing he raised and spent no money on that campaign through March 31.

Santos, who flipped the 3rd District in 2022 only to have Suozzi flip it back to Democrats in a special election in February, had said he’d challenge LaLota in the 1st District GOP primary on June 25. He later said he would run as an independent.

LaLota reported total receipts during the quarter of $563,000 and had $1.7 million on March 31. Democrat John Avlon, meanwhile, reported $1.1 million in receipts and had $1 million cash on hand. Democrat Nancy Goroff reported $323,000 in receipts and had $625,000 on hand.

Progressives face challengers 

Pennsylvania Rep. Summer Lee faces an upcoming Democratic primary challenge from Bhavini Patel, an Edgewood Borough councilperson. But Lee, who filed a pre-primary report through April 3 last week, had the cash advantage over Patel. She had $1.2 million on hand compared with Patel’s $154,000.

But two other House Democrats from the progressive wing of the party who face primary challenges are trailing in the fundraising race.

New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman faces Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who raised $2.2 million in the first quarter and had $3 million on hand at the end of March. Bowman, meanwhile, raised $1.3 million in that time period and had $1.5 million on hand. New York’s primaries are June 25.

Missouri Rep. Cori Bush also faces a challenge from prosecutor Wesley Bell. Bush reported raising $678,000 during the last quarter and had $529,000 on hand at the end of March. Bell raised $960,000 during the first quarter and had $1.1 million on hand at the end of last month. The Missouri primary is Aug. 6. 

Maryland money 

Maryland Rep. David Trone has loaned his Senate campaign $41.8 million since the beginning of the cycle, and he’s spent nearly as much. That includes $18.5 million he loaned the campaign during the first quarter of the year. He received $216,000 in other contributions between January and March. He ended the quarter with $999,000 on hand ahead of a May 14 primary.

Trone, a co-founder of Total Wine & More, has historically self-funded his campaigns. That differs from Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County executive and his rival for the Democratic nomination for Senate. 

Alsobrooks has raised $7.2 million this cycle, including $2.1 million in the first quarter. She had $3.2 million on hand as of March 31. 

The Democratic nominee is likely to face Republican Larry Hogan, the former two-term governor, who entered the race in February. Hogan raised $1.9 million this quarter and had $1.5 million on hand at the end of March. 

House incumbents outraised

Eighteen House incumbents who are in battleground races this fall were outraised by potential challengers in the first quarter, although some still maintain a cash advantage after the first quarter of the election year. Fifteen of those incumbents are Republicans, while Connecticut Rep. Jahana Hayes and Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford were the Democrats who were outraised.

Hayes was outraised by Republican George Logan, who she defeated in 2022. Logan raised $597,000 in the first quarter, while Hayes raised $567,000. Still, Hayes had $1.4 million on hand at the end of March, while Logan had $740,000.

Horsford raised $561,000 and had $1.7 million on hand at the end of March, while John Lee, one of the Republicans seeking to run against him in November, raised $615,000 in the first three months of the year. Lee had $640,000 on hand at the end of last month. 

In addition, five Republicans from California and four from New York were also outraised by their opponents. They include Reps. Kevin Kiley, Duarte, Valadao, Garcia and Calvert from California and LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler and Marc Molinaro from New York.

The other Republicans who were outraised were Arizona Reps. David Schweikert and Juan Ciscomani, Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, Iowa Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Zach Nunn, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon and New Jersey Rep. Thomas H. Kean Jr.

Boebert battling

In Colorado, ex-Marine Ike McCorkle, a Democrat, outraised Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert by $300,000. He’s one of three Democrats running for the open seat in the 4th District, which Boebert decided to seek earlier this year. 

Boebert still had $980,000 on hand, the most of any of the 4th District candidates.

Boebert decided to run in the 4th after narrowly winning reelection in the 3rd District in 2022. The Democrat who almost beat her, former Aspen City Council member Adam Frisch, took in $1.4 million during the quarter. That’s typically enough to put him in elite status, but it was a drop from when he was running against Boebert and he took in $10.7 million last year alone. He still had more than $5.8 million on hand at the end of the quarter.

Senate Democrats prepping 

Senate Republicans recruited wealthy candidates who could help fund their campaigns in some key Senate races. But Democratic incumbents outpaced them in cash on hand as they seek to defend seats that will likely decide which party controls the chamber next year.

Tester had $12.7 million on hand at the end of March, while his likely opponent in Montana, Tim Sheehy, had $1.9 million. Sheehy loaned himself $1.5 million. In Ohio, Brown had $16 million on hand, compared with his challenger Republican Bernie Moreno, who had $1.7 million on hand after a competitive primary battle last month. He loaned himself $1.5 million during the first quarter. 

In Wisconsin, Sen. Tammy Baldwin had $10.3 million on hand compared with Erik Hovde, her likely challenger, who had $5.3 million on hand and loaned himself $8 million. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey had $11.9 million on hand, while Dave McCormick, who loaned himself $976,000, had $6.3 million. Nevada’s Jacky Rosen had $13 million on hand, while Sam Brown, a leading Republican vying to challenge her, had $2.3 million on hand. 

Democratic candidates also had the cash advantage in competitive open seats. In Arizona, Gallego led Republican Kari Lake, with $9.6 million on hand as of March 31 compared with Lake’s $2.5 million.

In Michigan, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, the likely Democratic nominee for Senate, raised $4.4 million in the first quarter and had $8.6 million on hand. Republican businessman Sandy Pensler, who loaned his campaign $2 million, had the second-most cash on hand, with $2.1 million as of March 31. Former Rep. Mike Rogers, who polls show is the leading Republican candidate, raised $1 million in the first quarter and had $1.4 million on hand.

Former Rep. Peter Meijer, whose family owns the Meijer grocery chain, raised $315,000 during the first quarter and had $244,000 on hand. He’s loaned his campaign $80,000. Former Rep. Justin Amash, who’s also seeking the nomination after leaving the GOP while in the House, raised $478,000 during the quarter after launching in late February and had $740,000 on hand.

In Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz trailed his Democratic challenger, Rep. Colin Allred, in both fundraising and cash on hand. Allred raised $9.5 million in the first quarter, when he won his party’s primary, and had $10.5 million on hand. Cruz raised $7 million and had $9.4 million on hand at the end of March. 

Former Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is running for Senate in Florida, raised $3.5 million in the first quarter, more than GOP Sen. Rick Scott, who raised $2.2 million in the first three months of the year. But Scott, who has loaned his campaign $7 million this cycle, still led in cash on hand with $3.8 million on hand at the end of March. 

Replacing Romney

Two Republicans in the crowded field for the open Senate seat in Utah are investing significant swaths of their own fortunes. Brad Wilson, the former speaker of the Utah House, put another $1 million into his campaign, bringing the total he has loaned his campaign to $2.8 million. Businessman Jason Walton loaned his campaign $2.5 million. They are among the 11 Republicans running to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney.

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