Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen have turned in strong quarterly reports, with Kaine taking the edge in cash on hand despite entering the race three months later than Allen. But these two political heavyweights have national clout as well, with Kaine as the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Allen as the former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Their national fundraising experience, coupled with the fact that the race is seen as a pure tossup in a battleground state at the presidential level, ensures it will be among the highest-spending races in the country.
In the most recent quarter, Kaine raised $1.3 million and had stockpiled a $2.5 million war chest by the end of September. Allen raised $900,000 and had $1.8 million in the bank.
There will be plenty of ads running in the pricey Washington, D.C., media market at this time next year, as moderate voters in the suburbs and exurbs are up for grabs and have a track record of swinging elections. Kaine and Allen, with help from allied outside groups, are expected to spend whatever it takes to win them over.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) had a blowout third quarter, raising $4.7 million, which included a $2 million personal contribution. Despite that figure, the $2.6 million that he took in from individual donors raised eyebrows as well.
Dewhurst demonstrated in his first quarter as an official candidate that he is willing to put his personal fortune, estimated by the Associated Press to be worth $200 million, behind his campaign. It has also been noted that many state lobbyists are eager to contribute to his Senate campaign, aware that even if Dewhurst loses, they will still have interests before him if he returns to Austin.
Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz both raised around a million dollars last quarter, impressive figures at first glance. However, an entire quarter’s fundraising could be eaten up after running a single ad statewide for a week.
The fact that Texas is such an expensive state to run in — given the multitude of diverse media markets — gives Dewhurst a big advantage.
Another factor is that Texas’ early March primary is the earliest in the country for Congressional races. Candidates will need to start spending their money on TV ads soon.
One of the most high-profile Member-vs.-Member races in the country will unfold in California’s San Fernando Valley, where Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman are squaring off. The Los Angeles-area contest is expected to be one of the costliest House races.
Both were sitting on expansive war chests at the end of the third quarter.
Berman’s latest report was laced with Hollywood bigwigs, and the Los Angeles Times reported that Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen (who all donated to his campaign last quarter) have scheduled a $5,000-a-plate dinner for Berman in November.
Democrats would love to avoid this intraparty battle, but so far both Members have dug in their heels and are preparing for a top-dollar duel. Sherman is a member of the Financial Services Committee, while Berman is ranking member on the Foreign Affairs panel.