Any challenger to McConnell will hope to cut into his fundraising head start to have a realistic chance for victory in 2014.
The freshman congressman, a favorite of both the national party and the tea party, announced his candidacy in early August and should have no trouble raising money to take on Pryor, arguably the most vulnerable incumbent in the country. But Pryor outraised Cotton in the second quarter 2-to-1 and ended June with nearly four times as much cash on hand.
This race is a top target for outside spending, but Cotton’s first report as an official candidate will offer another sign of how much trouble Pryor is in next year.
The six-term senator is the last remaining incumbent on retirement watch. Unlike many of the seven senators who have already announced they won’t seek re-election in 2014, Cochran would not be leaving behind a vulnerable seat — Mississippi is heavily Republican. After raising less than $200,000 in each of the first two fundraising quarters, Cochran has given no indication yet which direction he’s leaning.
But The New York Times recently reported that Cochran has begun stepping up his fundraising efforts — usually a sign of an intention to run again. After taking office in 1978, his exit would surely unleash plenty of pent-up ambition among Republicans. But strong fundraising might also help Cochran ward off a potential primary challenge from a state senator.