Since Senate candidates still file their financial disclosure reports on paper, the numbers always take a longer time to publish. Thanks to the Roll Call newspaper staff who tracked down the key, but unofficial, monetary figures, we have an early picture of the third quarter fundraising.
As we know, Republicans need to convert six Democratic seats to wrest the majority away from the controlling party. One of their key targets is Alaska, where first-term Sen. Mark Begich (D) is on the ballot next year. With Sarah Palin continuing to lurk in the background as a long-shot potential candidate, Republican Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell needs to show campaign strength. Though he is polling within low single digits of Sen. Begich, his financial take is underwhelming. According to the Roll Call report, Treadwell raised only $196,000 for the quarter and has just $155,000 cash-on-hand. This compares unfavorably with Sen. Begich, who banked $813,000 and commands more than $2.433 million in his campaign account.
One Republican challenger who had a strong dollar-producing quarter after officially announcing his senatorial campaign, is Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) who is challenging two-term Sen. Mark Pryor (D). Cotton attracted $1.073 million for the quarter, just ahead of Sen. Pryor’s $1.068 million. But, the senator has a huge cash-on-hand advantage, $4.419 million to $1.806 million.
An open seat race where Republicans are very slow to initiate their campaigns is in Iowa. The consensus Democrat candidate, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) topped $900,000 in receipts for the quarter and holds $2.323 million in his campaign account. State Sen. Joni Ernst led the Republicans, bringing in $252,000, and has $224,000 in the bank. David Young, the former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) and is expected to be one of the stronger candidates, only attracted $112,000 for the third quarter and has $124,000 in his campaign account. Former US Attorney Matt Whitaker’s numbers were not available.
This is an open seat race where the consensus Republican candidate is exceeding expectations; former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reports receipts of $2.051 million, but $1 million of that is from herself. Not counting the self-contribution, her campaign operation performed well. Her totals compare favorably to those of consensus Democrat candidate Gary Peters, the 14th District congressman. Peters raised $1.032 million and has just short of $2.5 million cash-on-hand. Land totals $1.939 million in her account.
Democrats are doing well in attempting to convert two Republican seats. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) actually out-raised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, $2.527 million to $2.269 million for the quarter, but the senator has a huge cash-on-hand advantage, $9.765 million to $1.965 million.
Michelle Nunn (D), daughter of former three-term Sen. Sam Nunn (D), is holding her own against a group of Republican candidates. She banked $1.732 million and has $1.475 million on hand. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) has the most available money, $2.895 million. First-time candidate David Perdue (R), the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General and cousin to former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), scored an impressive $1.811 million for the quarter, more than any other candidate but it is unclear how much he self-contributed. Perdue shows $1.345 million cash-on-hand. The biggest disappointment is former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R), who raised only $286,000 and has $312,000 in her campaign account.
Money does not foretell every aspect of a campaign, nor does it project who will win or lose on Election Day. It is, however, a good indicator of political momentum. While we are still at an early point in the election cycle, it is evident that several of the aforementioned competitive campaigns will have to pick up the pace if they hope to have any chance of victory.