Morning Fix: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of FEC Reports
The Fix has had Oct. 15 circled on our calendar for some time. Why? It's the day all candidates for federal office are required to report how much they raised and spent over the past three months.
(Are we aware of how dorky the above paragraph sounds? You bet. Long ago we decided to embrace our political nerd-dom.)
Money isn't the only thing in politics but a demonstrated ability to either convince other people to invest in your campaign or put your own money behind a bid is a significant measure of viability.
We've sorted through the preliminary returns and checked in with some money mavens in each party to determine the good, the bad and the outright ugly in the third quarter fundraising reports.
As all the reports pour in over the next few days, we'll do our best to keep Fixistas on who's up and who's down in the money chase.
Arlen Specter: Specter's recipe for successful campaigns -- whether he is a Republican or a Democrat -- doesn't change. He raises and stockpiles vast sums of money and uses that cash in an all-out assault on his opponent. Specter raked in another $1.8 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 and ended last month with a whopping $8.71 million on hand.
Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio: Yes, Crist, the governor of Florida and Rubio, the former speaker of the state House, are running against one another in the Republican primary for the open seat vacated by former senator Mel Martinez (R). And, yes, they both have reason to feel good about their cash take over the past three months. After raising, a dismal $350,000 over the summer, Rubio bounced back to bring in nearly $1 million in the third quarter -- a sum that will ensure that national conservatives will continue to talk about this race as a fight for the heart and soul of the GOP. Crist, who is without question the best fundraiser of any non-incumbent candidate for the Senate, raised $2.4 million between July 1 and Sept. 30, bringing his total amount collected in the contest to a stunning $7 million.
Steve Pearce: The New Mexico Republican raised better than $500,000 in his bid to reclaim the 2nd district he held from 2002 to 2006. While Pearce's run for Senate last November and his service in Congress gave him a leg up on the average House challenger, half a million dollars raised is a very impressive sum. Rep. Harry Teague (D), of course, is a self funder and can almost certainly match Pearce's total with the stroke of a pen.
Alex Sink: Sink, who is Florida's Chief Financial Officer, delivered on the high expectations surrounding her bid for governor by raising more than $1.6 million in the past three months. Sink's opponent -- state Attorney General Bill McCollum (R) -- seemed to try to get too cute by half with his own cash numbers but ultimately had to acknowledge he raised roughly half as much in the same period.
Joe Wilson: Who would have thought yelling "You lie!" at President Obama during a nationally televised address would be the key to a massive fundraising quarter for the South Carolina Republican? (Not us.) Wilson collected $2.7 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 and ended the month with $2.6 million in the bank -- more than enough to fend off Democrat Rob Miller next year.
Bill White: The mayor of Houston, White raised $1.1 million -- and donated another $400,000 from his personal bank account -- to his Senate bid. White, a Democrat, has now collected more than $6 million for a race that doesn't yet exist as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) continues to hedge on when she will resign to focus full-time on her primary challenge to Gov. Rick Perry.
Chris Dodd: The Connecticut senator's allies note that the $900,000 he raised in the third quarter should come with an asterisk as he canceled a number of events to undergo surgery for prostate cancer and deal with the death of his close friend Ted Kennedy. All true. But, it doesn't change the fact that Republicans have already seized on the fact that former representative Rob Simmons (R) outraised Dodd as a sign of the Connecticut Democrat's weakness. Dodd can correct that perception with a strong final quarter of the year but, for now, $900,000 -- whatever the reason -- isn't good enough.
Bil Ritter: A sitting governor who is running for reelection should never -- we repeat, never -- get outraised by a challenger. Yet, that's exactly what happened in Colorado where Ritter, the Democratic incumbent, raised $452,000 and former representative Scott McInnis (R) brought in $549,000. Even state Sen. Josh Penry (R), who has never run statewide before, nearly equaled Ritter's total by raising $416,000.
Jodi Rell: The Connecticut governor collected just under $15,000 for her reelection bid, a staggeringly low total that is already fueling speculation that she will not run again in 2010. If she does retire, this is a terrific pickup opportunity for Democrats with Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz the favorites.
Vic Snyder: The Arkansas Democratic congressman collected a total of $0 in the past three months. Now, Snyder never raises money in an off year and has consistently won reelection despite that stance. But, he has also never faced someone like former U.S. attorney Tim Griffin (R) before. Griffin is very well connected in Washington and raised $130,000 in just 10 days of active cash collecting.
Thursday's Fix Picks:
Toomey, Specter in Dead Heat: A new poll in the Pennsylvania Senate race shows Sen. Arlen Specter (D) and former representative Pat Toomey (R) in a dead heat. The survey, which was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, showed Specter with 42 percent to 41 percent for Toomey. Other numbers in the data were more troubling for Specter as nearly six in ten voters (59 percent) said it was time to give someone else a chance while 31 percent said they believed Specter deserved another term in office. The good news in the poll for Specter? He led Rep. Joe Sestak (D) 44 percent to 16 percent in a hypothetical primary matchup.
In the Annals of Bad Press Releases. . .: Speaking of Sestak, his campaign put out one of the more bizarre press releases in recent Fix memory on Wednesday. The release touted an endorsement from "one of the few Democratic candidates to successfully challenge his party" and even included a quote from this person touting Sestak's willingness to take on the political establishment. And yet, the mystery endorser was never named. Guess you have to tune in next Monday on Independence Mall for the big reveal. (Apparently, the mystery man is Ned Lamont who knocked off Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman in a 2006 Democratic primary.)
Click It!: Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) explains to MSNBC's Chris Matthews her thinking on the health care bill.
Sen. Vilsack?: Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack (D) set off a round of furious speculation Wednesday when she told a local television station that she was "well qualified" to run for office in 2010 against Sen. Chuck Grassley (R). Vilsack, the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, is widely regarded in Iowa as a political powerhouse in her own right but, according to knowledgeable Hawkeye State Democrats, isn't likely to run. Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin , who has significant personal wealth, is seriously looking at the race and Rep. Bruce Braley is reconsidering his past decision not to run, according to one informed Democrat. It's not clear whether Grassley is truly vulnerable. Democrats tout a Des Moines Register poll that showed the Republican's job approval dropping from 75 percent in January to 57 percent in September as evidence that he is vulnerable but given Grassley's record of electoral success in the state we are still skeptical.
Say What?: "I have absolutely no interest in running for president again. None. None." -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, leaving no wiggle room about the possibility of a second presidential candidacy, in an interview with ABC's "Nightline."
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