Apr 21, 2004
Told You So
We told you our fundraising was exceptional, but you thought we were just blowing hot air didn’t you? Well CQ Politics Daily confirms:
Republicans are favored to retain control of the House this year in part because party has an upper hand over Democrats in overall fundraising.
But in some districts, Democratic candidates reported surprisingly strong fundraising numbers in the first three months of this year — boosting party leaders’ confidence that they might be able to make their goal of putting more seats “in play” for the November elections.
A Congressional Quarterly analysis of House fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission by the April 15 deadline demonstrated the success that some underdog Democrats had in playing catchup to their Republican opponents.
Typical was businessman Joe Driscoll, a Democrat who reported raising $571,000 through April 7 for a bid in Pennsylvania’s 15th District. Driscoll is running to succeed Republican Rep. Patrick J. Toomey, who is challenging incumbent Arlen Specter in the Republican Senate primary.
Driscoll, who faces frequent candidate Richard J. Orloski in the Democratic House primary, surpassed the $560,000 collected to date by the Republican front-runner, state Sen. Charles Dent, who has two primary opponents.
Driscoll did so even though he started his campaign late. He supplemented his $351,000 in contributions from individuals and PACs with a $220,000 personal loan he made to his own campaign.
Like Driscoll, Nevada Democrat Tom Gallagher is a wealthy businessman who began his House campaign late. But Gallagher’s long career and contacts in the gaming industry — a Nevada economic mainstay — enabled him to post $430,000 in first-quarter receipts for his bid against freshman 3rd District Republican Rep. Jon Porter. Gallagher’s total included a $200,000 loan of his own money to his campaign.
In Kentucky’s 4th District, former television broadcaster Nick Clooney raised $479,000 in the first quarter. Clooney, the father of actor George Clooney, received much of that money from well-known entertainment industry figures for his bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Ken Lucas.
Clooney’s fundraising enabled him to catch up somewhat to Republican Geoff Davis, the front-runner in the May 18 Republican primary. Davis’ $218,000 first-quarter receipts were less than half of Clooney’s. But Davis, whose overall receipts since January 2003 are $1.1 million, had $612,000 in the bank to Clooney’s $425,000 as of March 31.
Democrats also are bullish on their chances in a pair of open Washington districts: the 5th, which Republican Rep. George Nethercutt is leaving open to run for Senate, and the 8th, from which Republican Rep. Jennifer Dunn is retiring.
In the 5th, Democratic businessman Don Barbieri reported raising $340,000 in the first quarter — more than the combined total of the three Republicans who are running in the Sept. 14 primary. In the 8th, Democratic businessman Alex Alben’s $175,000 first-quarter receipts topped all candidates.
Democratic strategists also touted the fundraising prowess of two challengers to veteran Republican incumbents: Diane Farrell, a Westport first selectwoman who is challenging eight-term Republican Christopher Shays in Connecticut’s 4th District, and Jim Stork, a former mayor of Wilton Manors who is taking on 12-term Republican E. Clay Shaw Jr. in Florida’s 22nd District.
Farrell raised $372,000 in the first quarter and had $330,000 on hand as of March 31. Shays, a principal author of the 2002 campaign finance law, raised $250,000 and had only marginally more — $365,000 — on hand.
Stork took in $331,000 and had $282,000 left for his challenge of Shaw, who raised $173,000 for the quarter and had $529,000 on hand.