Both Parties Boast of House Fundraising

Posted July 19, 2004 at 6:19pm

Democrats hold the fundraising edge in six of the nation’s 10 most competitive open-seat House races, the latest round of Federal Election Commission filings showed last week. But several targeted Republican incumbents have surpassed the $1 million figure in cash on hand, suggesting that Democrats still face an uphill struggle in their quest to pick up the 11 seats they need to take control of the House next year.

The latest FEC reports, submitted July 15, come on the heels of word that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee came close to the National Republican Congressional Committee in fundraising and cash on hand in the latest quarterly reports — a further sign, Democrats said, that they are gaining momentum in the battle for House control.

The DCCC reported raising $16 million in the second quarter of the year and ended June with $18.5 million in the bank. The NRCC raised $22 million in the same period and had $20.2 million left over at the end of June.

Democrats happily note that a baker’s dozen of their challengers outraised Republican incumbents from April 1 to June 30. That list includes two challengers running against prime Republican targets this year: former Flagstaff Mayor Paul Babbitt, who is taking on freshman Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi, and former Boston Celtics scout Jon Jennings, who is running against the perpetually underfunded Indiana Rep. John Hostettler.

The list also includes second-tier Democratic races, including Wilton Manors Mayor Jim Stork, who is challenging Rep. Clay Shaw (R-Fla.); Nebraska state Sen. Nancy Thompson, who is taking on Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.); and attorney Lois Murphy, who is running against freshman Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.).

Democrats are also pleased that their five incumbents who were made vulnerable by last fall’s re-redistricting in Texas have all posted strong fundraising numbers.

Republicans “created opportunities for themselves with redistricting, but they’ve not been able to capitalize,” said DCCC spokesman Greg Speed.

Still, the more significant numbers for Democrats may be their fundraising leads in six of the 10 most competitive open-seat races around the country. The Democratic advantage is most acute in two districts where Democratic nomination fights have already been settled while Republicans continue to slug it out.

In Colorado’s 3rd district, state Rep. John Salazar (D) has significantly more money in the bank than the combination of the three leading Republicans competing for the nomination in the Aug. 10 primary. The same is true in Washington’s 5th district, where wealthy businessman Don Barbieri has more money on hand than the three Republicans running in the Sept. 14 primary do collectively.

Democrats also feel comfortable with the fundraising performances of two of their candidates in Pennsylvania open-seat races.

In the 15th district, real estate developer Joe Driscoll (D) outraised highly touted Republican state Sen. Charlie Dent in the second quarter of the year, and had a $170,000 advantage in cash on hand. And in the 13th district, state Sen. Allyson Schwartz (D) continues to rack up impressive fundraising numbers.

But Republicans have plenty to be happy about in open-seat races as well.

In Kentucky’s 4th district, businessman Geoff Davis (R) outraised former television anchor and game-show host Nick Clooney (D) by more than $130,000 from April 1 to June 30, and he had $117,000 more in the bank despite Clooney’s access to Hollywood money. (His son is actor George Clooney.)

In New York’s 27th district, Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples (R) raised more than $500,000 in a month — fueled by a $200,000 loan. And in Nebraska’s 1st district, former Lincoln City Councilman Jeff Fortenberry (R) got off to an unexpectedly strong fundraising start following his bruising primary in May.

And several targeted Republican incumbents appear strong. Among those considered most vulnerable, Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.) had an eye-popping $1.75 million in the bank as of June 30. Rep. Max Burns (R-Ga.) had $1.2 million, while Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) had $1.1 million.

Northup had a huge lead over her challenger, Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk Tony Miller, while Porter had a 2-1 advantage over his Democratic opponent, former casino CEO Tom Gallagher. In Georgia, Burns can sit on his stash a while longer as underfunded Democrats appear headed to an August runoff.

“Most of our incumbents have done great,” said Carl Forti, the NRCC spokesman.