Frontliners Get Quick Cash Start

Frosh Post Solid Totals

Posted April 13, 2007 at 6:33pm

Freshman House Democrats, buoyed by the new majority their victories ushered in, raked in campaign money at an almost frantic pace in the first three months of the off-election year, showed fundraising tallies for the most vulnerable among them.

According to a tabulation by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the 29 Members of the DCCC’s “Frontline” program — which directs funds to the party’s most endangered incumbents — raised an average of $291,000 in the first three months of 2007. That reflects more than a $100,000 jump from the average the Frontline members raised in the first quarter of 2005.

There also are almost three times as many Members in the program this cycle, due to the Democratic victories in last year’s midterm elections that netted the party 30 seats and control of the House.

Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Ron Klein (Fla.) were the standouts among Democratic freshmen and the Frontline group. Gillibrand, who defeated Rep. John Sweeney (R) last year, took in $690,000 in the first three months of the year.

Klein, who knocked off Rep. Clay Shaw (R), raked in $610,000 in the period and will show $525,000 in cash on hand.

It remains to be seen if Klein will have a difficult re-election in the South Florida 22nd district, which favors Democrats, especially in a presidential election year. But he said in a statement he isn’t willing to gamble.

“I am not taking anything for granted and I will not be outworked on the campaign trail,” Klein said.

Two other Frontline Democrats raised more than $400,000 in the period: Reps. Melissa Bean (Ill.) and Tim Mahoney (Fla.).

Bean is in her second term and it is unclear whether Republicans will be able to recruit a top-flight challenger to run against her. She raised $475,000 in the quarter, with $285,000 of that coming from political action committees.

Mahoney, a freshman, is all but certain to have a tough re-election contest after barely winning the seat formerly represented by disgraced ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.).

The bulk of the Frontline members raised from $200,000 to $400,000 in the quarter, with freshman Reps. John Hall (N.Y.), Christopher Murphy (Conn.) and Jerry McNerney (Calif.) turning in some of the best performances. All three defeated veteran Republican lawmakers last fall.

Of the vulnerable Democrats, Rep. Jim Marshall (Ga.) raised the least in the quarter, taking in $130,000.

Marshall won re-election by fewer than 2,000 votes and will be another top target for the GOP this cycle. First elected in 2002, he is one of the few non-freshmen on the DCCC’s Frontline list.

Of the 29 Frontliners, only four Members raised less than $200,000 in the quarter. Aside from Marshall, they were freshman Reps. Tim Walz (Minn.), Steve Kagen (Wis.) and Michael Arcuri (N.Y.).

Freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda (Kan.), who declined inclusion in the Frontline program but also is a top Republican target, raised $152,000 in the quarter. That total included $42,000 from other Members or PACs, including $4,000 total from the campaign committees of Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.).

Meanwhile, Republican fundraising numbers also were trickling in at the end of last week but of potentially vulnerable GOP Members, Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.) appeared to lead the pack.

Kirk raised a whopping $653,000 in the first quarter and had $626,000 on hand at the end of March. He faces a likely rematch with marketing executive Dan Seals (D), who held Kirk to just 53 percent last year in a race that garnered little attention from the national party committees.

Seals, who raised $1.9 million for his campaign last year, got off to a sluggish first quarter start. He raised just $13,000 in the period and showed $37,000 in the bank. Still, he is expected to get high-profile support from his party’s leaders this go-round as Kirk’s district leans toward Democrats in national elections.

For Republicans, the first-quarter reports that were due to the Federal Election Commission on Sunday will be the first to reflect what, if any, impact their new minority status has had on individual fundraising.

While few appeared to rival Kirk’s total, many of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents had strong showings.

Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), a perennial target who already is drawing scrutiny from Democrats over her connections to the U.S. attorney firings, raised $325,000 and showed $250,000 in cash on hand.

The DCCC has launched radio ads and a Web site attacking Wilson, who was re-elected by fewer than 900 votes last year.

Republican Reps. Jim Gerlach (Pa.) and Deborah Pryce (Ohio), who also survived tough re-election battles in 2006, each raised a little more than $200,000 in the period.

Gerlach took in $216,000 and ended March with $107,000 on hand, while Pryce raised $208,000 and showed $171,000 in the bank.

Pryce faced her most difficult re-election yet in 2006 and likely will have another tough battle next year.

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the past two cycles who found himself in a tighter-than-expected contest last year, raised $240,000 in the quarter and had $356,000 on hand. His report showed he transferred $10,000 to the NRCC on March 1.

GOP Reps. Rick Renzi (Ariz.) and Jim Walsh (N.Y.) had difficult contests in 2006 and also are likely targets for Democrats next year.

Renzi raised $118,000 and showed just less than $80,000 on hand while Walsh, who traded an Appropriations subcommittee chairmanship for ranking member status in the minority, raised $105,000 and showed almost $132,000 in the bank.

Among GOP freshmen, Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Peter Roskam (Ill.) turned in strong numbers for the quarter.

Bachmann, who won with 50 percent in November, raised $267,000 and had a little more than $200,000 in her campaign account. Roskam raised $228,000 and had $273,000 on hand.

The reports showed several Republicans who have not had competitive races in recent years gearing up for potential battles in 2008.

Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) raised $264,000 and had $280,000 on hand, more than double his cash-on-hand figure at the end of last year. Knollenberg is in his eighth term but had an election scare in 2006, winning re-election with 52 percent.

But the reports also showed some Republicans, even those who had lower-than-anticipated re-election tallies last year because of the strong Democratic wave, used the first quarter to take a breather when it came to fundraising.

Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), whom Democrats have said they would like to target in 2008, ended March with slightly less money in the bank than he had at the end of December. He raised just $32,000 in the period and had $153,000 on hand.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), who faced a late-breaking competitive contest in 2006, raised just $37,000 in the first quarter and had $30,000 in the bank on March 31.

While vulnerable lawmakers often use first-quarter reports to prove their fundraising mettle and help scare off potential challengers, the reports also can provide early indications of possible retirements. Among Democrats, Rep. Julia Carson (Ind.) raised $2,500 in the period from one PAC contribution.