With a few exceptions, the 14 Republican House Members representing the most vulnerable political terrain banked largely respectable first-quarter fundraising, starting them out on the right path in what could be challenging re-election bids.
From Florida to New Hampshire, Wisconsin to Washington, all but two of the Republicans representing districts that voted Democratic in each of the past two presidential elections raised more than $100,000 in the first three months of the cycle.
That includes Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy, a freshman hailing from former Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey’s (D) expansive 7th district. Duffy raised $246,000 and has $235,000 on hand as he looks to earn a second term in the district Obey represented for more than 30 years.
Thanks to redistricting, these districts will look slightly or even drastically different by Election Day 2012. But for now, these Members are on the most fertile ground for Democratic challenges and represent about two-thirds of the 25 seats Democrats need to pick up to take the majority.
Republican incumbents are not in great shape everywhere — Arizona freshman Reps. Paul Gosar and David Schweikert are carrying more debt than cash on hand — but a majority of these instant Democratic targets are off to a good start.
Five Pennsylvania Republicans are in such Democratic-leaning districts. Philadelphia-area Reps. Jim Gerlach and freshman Patrick Meehan raised the most among the quintet. Meehan pulled in an impressive $338,000 and has $316,000 on hand, while Gerlach raised $232,000 and has $238,000 on hand.
Among the other three from the Keystone State, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick raised $209,000 and has $143,000, but he is carrying more than $100,000 in debt; Rep. Charlie Dent raised $118,000 but has less than $100,000 in the bank; and Rep. Lou Barletta raised just $106,000 and has $90,000 in the bank, but is carrying $289,000 in debt.
In 2010, Barletta knocked off 13-term Democrat Paul Kanjorski after losing to him two years earlier. Fitzpatrick returned to Congress four years after former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) swept him from his Philadelphia-area seat. Dent was among Democrats’ top targets but easily held off a challenge from highly touted Democratic recruit John Callahan.
Along with Barletta, a few other Republicans among the 14 surefire Democratic targets turned in less-than-stellar fundraising reports. New Hampshire Rep. Charles Bass, another former Member who won his old seat in 2010, raised $120,000 and has $135,000 in the bank. New York Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle raised just $65,000 but has $111,000 on hand. Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling, who defeated an incumbent Democrat last year, raised just $80,000 and has $99,000 in the bank, plus $54,000 in debt.
Fellow freshman Illinois Rep. Robert Dold raised $311,000 and has $322,000 on hand, while carrying $109,000 in debt. And Washington Rep. Dave Reichert, a perennial Seattle-area Democratic target, raised $216,000, and has $146,000 in the bank and $98,000 in debt.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.