GOP Has Financial Edge

Targeted House Republicans Have More Cash for Endgame

Posted October 18, 2004 at 6:29pm

Republican incumbents and challengers carry a cash-on-hand edge in 14 of the 20 most competitive House races as the campaign heads into its final two weeks.

Among the nine open-seat races that are traditionally seen as most likely to switch between the parties, Republican candidates have a financial edge in six of them.

Reports detailing contributions and expenditures from July 1 to Sept. 30 were due at the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 15.

Republicans downplayed the importance of their cash position.

“At this point with two weeks left and party committees spending heavily in most of the districts, candidates’ cash on hand becomes irrelevant,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Carl Forti.

Forti’s counterpart at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Greg Speed, said that the fundraising disparity was nothing new.

“Our committee and our individual campaigns are more competitive with House Republicans than we have been in years,” said Speed. “The DCCC and our candidates will have plenty of money to get our message out and win these districts.”

In several races, however, Republican incumbents have rolled up huge financial advantages, making the effort to unseat them all the more difficult.

Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) showed $1.3 million in the bank at the end of Sept. 30 as he seeks to win a second term in the suburban Denver 7th district. Beauprez’s opponent, Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas (D), had a meager $123,000 on hand at that time.

Aside from his financial struggles, Thomas has been beleaguered in recent weeks by allegations surrounding his role investigating the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

A state grand jury report raised questions about Thomas’ role in private meetings in which a draft of a search warrant for gunman Eric Harris was discussed.

The 7th district was initially expected to be one of the closest races in the country after Beauprez won by just 121 votes in 2002. But national Democrats seem to have given up.

After buying television time in the Denver market, the DCCC cancelled its buy following the Columbine revelations.

The NRCC ran two weeks of ads but pulled its commercials once the DCCC backed out.

While the financial margin was not nearly as large for other targeted Republican incumbents, Reps. Max Burns (Ga.) Rob Simmons (Conn.) and Rick Renzi (Ariz.) all had significant cash edges over their Democratic incumbents.

Burns, who is widely considered the most vulnerable House Republican, showed that there is still fight left in him as he banked $690,000 to $168,000 for Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow (D).

Both men spent heavily in the third quarter with Burns expending nearly $1.1 million to $916,000 for Barrow. The challenger did outraise Burns by roughly $80,000 in the period, however.

The best news in the latest financial reports for Democrats came from Texas, where three of their five endangered incumbents continued to financially outdistance their challengers.

Reps. Max Sandlin, Nick Lampson and Chet Edwards all outspent their Republican rivals from July 1 to Sept. 30 and had more cash on hand at the end of the period.

Edwards, who is seen as the member of the “Texas Five” with the best chance at victory, spent nearly $1 million in the period compared to roughly $700,000 for state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth (R). He ended September with a $500,000 cash edge as well.

In the Houston-area 2nd district, Lampson expended $724,000 to just $200,000 for former state district judge Ted Poe (R) and had roughly $50,000 more left in the bank.

Sandlin outspent former judge Louie Gohmert by $100,000 in the quarter, and at the end of September he had $150,000 more left to spend.

In the two Member-versus-Member races in Texas, both sides continued to raise and spend eye-popping sums.

Reps. Martin Frost (D) and Pete Sessions (R), who are paired in the Dallas-area 32nd district, both brought in more than $1 million in the period. Frost has raised more than $4 million in the race to date, while Sessions has collected $3.8 million.

Frost was the biggest spender in targeted House races, doling out $2.1 million; Sessions spent $1.3 million in that time.

Sessions had a massive $2.3 million left on hand, however, while Frost had just $577,000.

In the West Texas 19th district, Reps. Charlie Stenholm (D) and Randy Neugebauer (R) spent approximately $1.2 million during the quarter.

While Stenholm outraised Neugebauer during that time, the Republican Member retained a $76,000 cash-on-hand lead.