Second-Quarter Fundraising: the Winners and Losers

Posted July 17, 2009 at 1:32pm

With the dust beginning to settle from this week’s second-quarter fundraising reports frenzy, it is clear who the big winners and losers of the quarter were in the Senate races. The winners: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The losers: Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D). Crist and Reid posted rock-star numbers for the quarter, and Reid’s $7.3 million war chest is yet another stark reminder of why Republicans haven’t been able to recruit a serious opponent for the Majority Leader. Gillibrand posted a respectable $1.5 million raised in the period. But the real reasons she’s a winner are the facts that there doesn’t appear to be any top-tier Republican opposition on the horizon and that Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is still dancing around launching a primary challenge.Among the losers, Bunning and Brunner both posted pathetic numbers for candidates facing primaries next year. The next quarter will be a test of strength for leaders in both parties when it comes to their ability to muscle Bunning and Brunner out of the way in favor of Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) and Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D), who are clearly their strongest candidates. For the GOP especially there’s now increased pressure to get Grayson to say he’s running regardless of what Bunning does.Kirk is set to announce his Senate candidacy on Monday, but his $580,000 raised in a quarter when it was clear he was running for statewide office is hardly impressive. The Congressman has proved his fundraising mettle before, and now that he’ll have almost the entire third quarter to raise money as a Senate candidate, we should expect his next report to wow us. On the House side, the newly filed reports shed light on the state of play in a handful of competitive open (or potentially open) seats that Republicans should be very worried about losing next year. They are Florida’s 10th district, Pennsylvania’s 6th district, Illinois’ 10th district and Delaware’s At-Large seat. All four were carried by President Barack Obama last year. In Delaware, at this point we’re just waiting for Rep. Mike Castle (R) to announce whether he’s running for Senate or going to retire. He’s made it clear he’s not running for re-election, and former Lt. Gov. John Carney’s (D) solid fundraising performance makes it all the more obvious that he is likely to waltz to winning the House seat next year. In Pennsylvania, the field seems to be fairly settled in the race to succeed Rep. Jim Gerlach (R), who announced this week that he is running for governor. Democrats are rallying behind former editorial writer Doug Pike, who raised more than $660,000 in the quarter. Republicans could be set to do the same and get behind state Rep. Curt Schroder (R), although it’s less clear that the GOP will avoid a primary. In Florida and Illinois, the state of play is much more in flux. Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) did little to quell retirement speculation by raising a paltry $50,000. Democrats have hailed their recruitment of state Sen. Charlie Justice into the race, but Justice’s first fundraising quarter was a flop. He raised just $86,000, hardly a top-tier performance. In Illinois, Kirk’s announcement is likely to set off a scramble among Democrats to get into the race, and the party seems all but certain to have a costly primary. That could help Republicans if they are able to avoid the same kind of nasty fight and rally behind state Rep. Beth Coulson, who is even more politically moderate than Kirk on some issues.