Few Repeat Candidates Raising Money Quickly

Posted April 16, 2007 at 6:06pm

More than two dozen unsuccessful House candidates from the previous cycle — including several former Republican Members of Congress who were swept out of office — are preparing to run again in 2008 or are at least contemplating bids.

But you’d never know it from their first-quarter fundraising totals.

With a couple of exceptions, most of the rerun candidates have barely gotten their fundraising efforts off the ground. Several entered April with just a few thousand dollars — or less — in their campaign war chests.

On the Republican side, former Rep. Jim Ryun (Kan.) has taken to heart his upset loss in November to now-Rep. Nancy Boyda (D) and is organizing his campaign early. Ryun raised $273,000 in the first three months of 2007 and has retained most of it, banking $256,000 through the end of March.

Ryun does not have a clear path to the Republican nomination, however. Before he can focus fully on Boyda — whom he defeated by 15 points in 2004 — he must first win a tough Republican nomination fight with state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, who only recently announced her intention to run and has not begun fundraising significantly.

Boyda collected $140,000 in her first three months of fundraising as an incumbent and ended March with $152,000 on hand.

Two other Republicans who have definitively said they want their old jobs back have gotten a much slower start than Ryun. Ex-Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (Texas), who served in Congress for seven weeks at the end of 2006 but lost a bid for a full term, raised $43,000 in the quarter and had $89,000 in the bank. Former Rep. Jeb Bradley (N.H.), who was ousted in the Democratic wave by now-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), took in just $7,200 and ended March with $64,000 on hand.

Other former Republican Members contemplating comeback bids in 2008 include ex-Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Melissa Hart (Pa.) and Mike Sodrel (Ind.).

Among Democrats, retired military pilot Charlie Brown (D), who is seeking a rematch with embattled Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), was the most aggressive on the fundraising front. Brown collected $94,000 in the first quarter of the year and banked $136,000.

Most of the other rerun candidates on the Democratic side barely have started their fundraising. Former Capitol Hill staffer Dan Maffei (D), who recently announced his intention to try again against Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.), did not raise a dime through March 31, though he retained $28,000 in his campaign account. Walsh, by contrast, raised $105,000 and banked $132,000.

Teacher Larry Kissell (D), who announced right after Election Day 2006 that he would take a second crack at Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), raised just $12,000 and finished March with only $470 in the bank. Hayes, a wealthy textile heir, raised $178,000 and had $176,000 on hand.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D), who has signaled her intention to again challenge Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) even though she won’t raise much money until she wins re-election this fall, finished March with just $3,000 in the bank. Ferguson, by contrast, collected a healthy $460,000 and had $405,000 in the bank.

The same situation applies in Illinois’ 10th district, where second-time challenger Dan Seals (D) banked just $37,000 while Rep. Mark Kirk (R) ended March with $626,000 on hand.