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Fundraising Heros and Zeros

Campaign fundraising reports for the first three months of 2009 were due at the Federal Election Commission yesterday.

This is one of the Fix's favorite parts of the year (yes, we are well aware of how lame that is) -- combing through stacks of numbers to sort out who won, who lost and who isn't even really trying.

The reports continue to come in -- for some reason the Senate still doesn't file their reports electronically -- but here's our first cut at the heros and zeros from the first fundraising quarter.

A caveat: We reserve the right to revise and extend these thoughts over the next few days. Have suggestions of who we missed? The comments section is open for business.


Joe Sestak: We had heard rumors that the Pennsylvania House Democrat was making a major fundraising push in the first quarter to position himself for a potential race for Senate. Mission accomplished. Sestak raised $550,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31 and now is sitting on a whopping $3.3 million war chest. (Honorary mention to Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who, like Sestak, is reconsidering a Senate bid in Pennsylvania; she raised just short of $400,000 and has more than $2 million on hand.)

Mitt Romney: Like him or hate him, you have got to give the former Massachusetts governor his due -- he can raise money with the best of them. Romney collected $300,000 for his Free and Strong America PAC in March, bringing his total fundraising for the organization to more than $870,000 for the year. Romney will, without doubt, set the pace for the 2012 Republican presidential field -- the standard by which all cash-collection for GOPers will be measured.

Alexi Giannoulias: The Illinois state Treasurer established himself as the frontrunner for the Democratic Senate nomination in 2010 by raising more than $1 million in roughly a month of active fundraising. He was helped by the fact that Sen. Roland Burris (D) decided -- inexplicably -- not to raise money in the first quarter.

Rob Portman: National Republicans promised that the former Ohio Congressman was a star in the making and, in the first quarter at least, he delivered on that promise. Portman's $3 plus million raised total was slightly misleading as it included a $1.4 million transfer from his old House account but the $1.7 million he collected in the first three months of the year are damn impressive anyway.

Mark Kirk: The Illinois Republican is trying to decide whether to run for governor or Senate (or neither) in 2010 and his first quarter numbers -- $696,000 raised -- showed that he would be a formidable presence in either contest.


Roy Blunt: For a former member of the House Republican leadership who is allegedly the pick of the Missouri party establishment for the state's open seat race, Blunt's $542,000 did not impress -- especially when compared to the $1 million plus Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) collected in the same time period. If there was any doubt whether former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman would run for the GOP nod, there shouldn't be now.

Jennifer Brunner: The Ohio Secretary of State got outraised at a roughly five to one clip by Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in the first real skirmish of their Democratic primary fight. Unless Brunner picks it up considerably over the next three months, expect establishment Democrats to begin to pressure her to reconsider the race.

Palin Watchers: The Alaska governor's "Sarahpac" isn't filing a report until July -- taking advantage of new disclosure requirements at the FEC. That means we have to wait three more months to figure out whether or not she can transfer the energy for her among grassroots GOPers into actual campaign dollars.

Jim Bunning: You can't say that the Kentucky Republican didn't warn us. Bunning told reporters recently that his fundraising was going "lousy" and he didn't disappoint with just $263,000 raised in the first quarter of 2009. While Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D) didn't blow the doors off with $430,000 raised in his first quarter as a Senate candidate, he is already in a stronger cash position that Bunning. Um, not good.

Rob Simmons: Knowing he was going to be running against embattled Sen. Chris Dodd (D) and with poll numbers showing he was well ahead of the incumbent, wouldn't it make sense for Simmons to seed his Senate account with a few hundred thousand dollars raised for the first quarter? Apparently not. Simmons reportedly didn't raise any "meaningful" money in the first three months of the year; Dodd, for his part, raised more than $1 million.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 16, 2009; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012 , House , Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wag the Blog: Did the Tea Parties Succeed?
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Sometimes I get all Pollyanna about politics.. I'm really not this stupid..

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 18, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Mr Governor Mitt Romney,
he has a following that many are jealous of.
Unfornuately, jealousy is one of the 7 deadly sins.
A man with such jealous grace should give it a second look.

dePaul Consiglio

Posted by: depaulconsiglio | April 18, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

You definitely included the key high points and low points. My only quibble is: You say that Roland Burris "inexplicably" raised no money.

That seems like one of the more explicable things I've seen in politics. Every leader in the democratic party wanted him to resign this quarter. No one thinks he has any chance of winning a primary in'10. And the clearest reason for not raising money for '10 is that he is probably not running in '10. Thank God:)

Posted by: stpaulsage | April 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I have to wonder about Mark Sanford and John Huntsman Jr. and their fundraising efforts. It looks like Jindal will run for reelection 2011 and back off a Presidential run 2012. It looks as if though Mark Sanford, John Huntsman Jr. are in for certain, but questions remain on Palin & Romney. I think, whoever runs, that Mark Sanford is going to be the front-runner. If the primaries go Iowa, New Hampshire and then South Carolina...that's 2 out of 3 likely wins for Sanford. Sanford will likely win Iowa & South Carolina hands down. Sanford will have strong backing from the Club for Growth and will get their financial backing as well. The Club has never financially backed a Presidential candidate like they will Sanford in 2012. He should benefit tremendously from that plus Iowa & South Carolina being 2 of the top 5.New Hampshire & Nevada is winnable for someone else. Huntsman Jr. would likely win easily in Nevada & New Hampshire if Romney doesn't run. If Romney runs, life will be made very tough for him & Huntsman, complicated both's efforts to win the R nomination. Mark Sanford is the man to watch right now.

Posted by: reason5 | April 17, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

ya know...
i like Sarah. She has mojo.
however, she's not "seasoned".
Along with "seasoned".."groomed" is a nice word.
She is not groomed.
Along with "gee, did you actually read the bill on the floor"?????
it's called l-e-g-i-s-l-a-t-i-o-n
((spell it with me Sarah)

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 17, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

that may be the ruling the process.

so much for following those regulatory requirements for the last 8 years, uh?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 17, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

What about the charm of the religious right, Sarah Palin? No honorable mention. Actually, if I never see he name again, I'll be fine. She is such a vacuum. I really do not mean to be so cruel, but she started her VP campaign with three big lies and hasn't impressed since. The truth, regardless of how hollow it may sound at times, will always ring true.

Posted by: EarlC | April 17, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

help us....

in Romney we trust?
sure, if you're practicing to be anal retentive.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 17, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to campaign finance reform? So long as money rules the process.. well nevermind...

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 17, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Chris (and playing off of mark_in_austin), I'll be curious to see where Dodd's $1M came from. We've always known that he could raise millions from his perch on Senate Banking but it's uncertain whether the potential blowback makes it worthwhile (especially after the convoluted AIG revelations). Thoughts?

Posted by: LandofLincoln97 | April 16, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Romney is positioning himself as the great economic savior, similar to Reagan in '80. He proved in this most recent election he will spend what it takes, and the Mormans ARE on a mission. As implausible as a Romney Palin ticket, it would only have to beat an Obama Biden, "Stay the Course" defense. But indeed, the early money provides tea leaves rather than tea bags.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | April 16, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I think you have to include Sen. Gillibrand (D. NY) as a hero - 2.3 million in first 2.3 months as a Senator. Steve Israel is running for the same Senate seat with a lot of press (FIX included) and I think his 280K has to be considered a Zorro. Caroline Maloney's 650K on the other hand is a surprise although not quite Hero status.

Posted by: FloydThirsby | April 16, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

You don't suppose that Pat Fitzgerald has assigned a bushy-tailed assistant to discover how Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has raised more money in a month than dapper national figure Mitt Romney has raised in three, do you?

Posted by: Miss_Hogynist | April 16, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Never mind. Sheesh, Hogynist, read past the 12'th paragraph before firing off posts!

Posted by: Miss_Hogynist | April 16, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Where does Sarah Palin fit in this fundraising picture? Enquiring minds need to know :)

Posted by: Miss_Hogynist | April 16, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to second mark_in_austin's sentiments. I know you need hits for economic/marketing purposes, but high information posts like this is what drew me here in the first place.


Posted by: mnteng | April 16, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Romney is clearly the strongest 2-12 contender for the Republicans. Besides his fundraising prowess, Mitt has been able to remain a telegenic voice of conservative opposition to Obama without crossing the disrespectful line so many other GOPers have in three short months.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 16, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

If there were any better examples of why we need public campaign financing....

Want to get big money out of politics? The only option is to replace it with public money. If we're serious, that's what we should support.

Posted by: dasimon | April 16, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse


"Innocent but targeted."

"Extrajudicial punishment network."

"Microwave Radiation Weapon."

"Domestic Torture."

"DOJ Memos Used As Legal Cover..."


Google one or more of the above.

Then ask yourself:

Where's the hope?

Where's the change?

If not now -- when?



Posted by: scrivener50 | April 16, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised Terry McAuliffe didn't make the heroes list. Got my first call of the campaign this week.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 16, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

MN Independent covers the MN delegation:

Bachmann leads...

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Tom Coburn got 17,000 I believe.

Posted by: derekmanners | April 16, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

amazing figures of fundraising in this economy. As far as Palin goes, there was an article saying how the Alaska Legislature is pissed at her for going to speak in Indiana when there are so many budget issues to work out. Of course, no mention of whether it was state business she was speaking about or Party business in Indiana. I don't like her, would never vote for her, but I want her to be treated fairly, 'cause to do otherwise would be undemocratic.

Posted by: katem1 | April 16, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the report, Chris. This is the sort of compilation that you do especially well, that is interesting to junkies, but that will draw little in the way of postings because the topic is uncontroversial.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 16, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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