Democrats running in House races across the country are announcing huge fundraising hauls in the final quarter before the midterm elections, in yet another positive data point for the party looking to turn the House blue in November.
The money, coming largely from small-dollar donors, has given these Democrats a chance in lean-Republican districts, leveling the playing field for a group of would-be lawmakers. Some of the biggest fundraising numbers are coming from districts with small and inexpensive media markets, meaning the money will go further than in place like Los Angeles and New York. That the candidates are raising the big money is also beneficial, considering campaigns gets cheaper ad rates compared to outside groups and super PACs.
September 30 marked the close of the third fundraising quarter and campaigns have until October 15 to file their fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Ben Ray Luján provided a snapshot of some of the totals across the quarter, revealing that over 82 Democratic House candidates raised more than $500,000 in the third quarter – and within that total, 60 had raised over $1 million, 30 had raised over $2 million and eight had raised over $3 million.
Though Republicans have benefited from super PACs flush with cash from deep-pocketed donors, Democrats in tough races have consistently outraised their Republican counterparts. ActBlue, the primary fundraising site for Democratic candidates, announced this month that it helped raise more than $385 million from small donors for 9,300 Democratic campaigns.
Here are the Democrats raising big money in the last three months:
Democratic candidate and former fighter pilot Amy McGrath posted a massive $3.65 million third quarter haul in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District open seat race, according to the campaign.
That’s more than McGrath – who emerged from a competitive Democratic primary against former Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, and has been one of the party’s strongest fundraisers – raised in her entire campaign so far (since May of 2017).
It’s also more than her opponent, incumbent Rep. Andy Barr, had raised through the end of the last reporting period, which ended June 30. Barr’s campaign has yet to release its third quarter fundraising total, but Barr had a significant cash on hand advantage at the end of the last reporting period – $2.7 million compared to $733,000 for McGrath.
The KY-06 race is among the Democrats’ top pick-up opportunities – an early September poll from the New York Times and Siena College found Barr with a one-point lead over McGrath. The race is currently the 18th most expensive by TV advertising, according to data from Kantar Media/CMAG.
The knock against Harder has been that he is a venture capitalist from the Bay Area who moved to the Central Valley to run against Rep. Jeff Denham. Well, the attack didn’t work in the primary and it turns out those ties to deep pockets across San Francisco can help raise big money. Harder raised $3.5 million from 128,000 contributions in the last three months, according to the Harder campaign, a record for California’s 10th Congressional District.
“I’m extremely grateful for the outpouring of support our campaign has received,” Harder said in a statement. “For everything that we care about–making sure families have access to healthcare, protecting DREAMers, and keeping families together–people know that winning this race is absolutely critical.”
Harder needed the cash given Denham has raised more than $3.4 million since the start of 2017 and entered the third quarter with more than $2.3 million in the bank.
Abby Finkenauer, a prized Democratic recruit running in Iowa’s 1st District, also had a strong fundraising quarter, taking in $1.6 million between July and the end of September, according to the campaign. That’s almost as much as Finkenauer raised in her campaign so far – $1.8 million between April 2017 and the end of June 2018.
Finkenauer’s race is another key 2018 contest, drawing more than $2.9 million in TV ad spending, nearly all of it from Democratic groups. Finkenauer’s opponent – another vulnerable GOP incumbent, Rep. Rod Blum – has not received any support from Republican outside groups on TV, while the DCCC recently canceled its fall ad reservations in a sign of confidence in the race.
Blum, who has yet to release his third quarter fundraising total, had a significant cash on hand advantage at the end of the second quarter, with $1.6 million to Finkenauer’s $839,000. But the incumbent is being outspent on TV nearly 2-to-1, campaign-to-campaign.
A New York Times/Siena College poll of this race in mid-September showed Finkenauer, one of the youngest House candidates this cycle at 29 years old, with a huge 15-point lead, 52% to 37%.
Levin, the environmental attorney running to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa in the southern California district, raised $2.2 million in the last three months, a sizable haul considering his Republican opponent, Diane Harkey, raised just over $600,000 this election cycle.
Levin’s fundraising gives him $1.4 million in the bank, a critical advantage in a seaside district where on-air advertising is expensive.
“The outpouring of support is truly breathtaking,” Levin said in a statement.
Casten, a clean-energy entrepreneur, raised $2.6 million in his race to oust Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, according to a campaign release, giving him a sizable bankroll a month away from Election Day.
“These numbers confirm what we already knew,” said Casten. “People are ready for a change in Illinois’ 6th District, and the momentum is on our side.”
Though Roskam carried the suburban Chicago districts by 20 percentage points in 2016, President Donald Trump’s unpopularity in the district has given Casten a chance to unseat the Republican who has represented the district since 2007.
Roskam comes into the final month of the campaign with an equally sizable bankroll. Though the candidate has yet to announce his third quarter numbers, he raised more than $4 million in the first six months of the campaign.
Tom Malinowski, the Democrat looking to unseat Republican Rep. Leonard Lance in northern New Jersey, raised more than $2.2 million in the last three months, according to a campaign aide who stressed that the number could grow and isn’t final.
That haul is larger than all the money – $1.5 million – that Lance has raised this cycle.
Malinowski, a former State Department official under President Barack Obama, has looked to link Lance to President Donald Trump throughout the campaign, an acknowledgment that the President lost the district by nearly 2 percentage points in 2016.
A Monmouth University poll of likely voters released last month found the Democrat with a slim 3% lead over Lance.
In the race for California’s 22nd District, Democrat Andrew Janz capitalized on the notoriety of his opponent – House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes – among the Democratic base to post the biggest third quarter total announced so far, with $4.3 million raised. Nunes’ emergence as a full-throated defender of the President and his polarizing conduct on the Intelligence Committee amid its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election clearly supercharged Janz’s fundraising operation.
Still, despite Janz’s financial success, the race is still seen as a long shot for Democrats. It’s a conservative district, encompassing stretches of California farmland, and Nunes has had a consistent lead in scattered polling of the contest.
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