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Senate Republicans' open seat money edge

By Aaron Blake

Republican candidates are continuing to dominate financially in key open seat Senate races while Democratic incumbents remain a fundraising bulwark for the party's majority status with less than four months left until election day.

Of the open seats considered toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, Republican candidates have significantly outraised their Democratic counter parts in four of seven races in the year's second quarter. (In the three others -- Illinois, Missouri and New Hampshire -- not all reports are in yet.)

The most egregious example of open-seat money woes for Democrats is in Ohio where former Rep. Rob Portman (R) raised $1.5 million more than Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) over the past three months and ended June with an $8 million -- yes, you read that right -- cash on hand edge.

While Ohio is the extreme, the open seat situation doesn't get much better for Democrats in other key races:

* In Florida, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) announced Monday that he raised an astronomical $4.5 million in the second quarter -- $3.5 million more than likely Democratic nominee Rep. Kendrick Meek brought in over the same time period. Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is running as an independent, has yet to report his second quarter fundraising total.

* In Pennsylvania, former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) raised $3.1 million while Rep. Joe Sestak, following his Democratic primary upset of Sen. Arlen Specter in May, raked in $2 million.

* In Illinois, Rep. Mark Kirk (R) appears a good bet to again outraise state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D). Kirk bested Giannoulias by $1 million in the first quarter, and the Democrat has yet to respond to Kirk's announcement of $2.3 million raised in the second quarter -- a stunning sum given that the Republican nominee endured a disastrous month (or so) of press regarding misstatements in his military resume.

The best open seat news for Democrats so far in the second quarter comes from Kentucky where state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) announced today that he had raised $1 million in the quarter and self-funded another $400,000 to get his fundraising re-started following a May primary win. Conway's $1.4 million haul outpaced ophthalmologist Rand Paul's $1.1 million raised -- albeit not by all that much.

The current financial landscape makes the reports from Democratic candidates in open seat races in Connecticut, Missouri, New Hampshire, Delaware and Indiana all the more important.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D-Mo.) has been a bright spot in the Democratic open seat world -- $5.4 million raised, $2.8 million on hand -- but still lagged slightly behind Rep. Roy Blunt (R) in each category at the end of the first quarter.

Ditto Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth who, as of mid-April, had $962,000 in the bank as compared to former Sen. Dan Coats' (R) unimpressive $292,000.

Democrats have high hopes for Newcastle County Executive Chris Coons (D) but he starts in a significant financial hole against Rep. Mike Castle (R). As of the start of the second quarter, Castle had $2.3 million in the bank while Coons showed $591,000 in the bank.

The financial advantages Senate Republicans enjoy in open seats coupled with what looks likely to be a good national environment for the party suggest that the GOP is well positioned to make gains in the states where no incumbent is running for re-election. (Worth noting: Five of the seven "toss up" races as rated by the Cook Report are currently held by Republicans, limiting somewhat their ability to make major gains.)

While Republicans should make gains in open seats, the financial strength of Democratic incumbents suggest they won't be pushovers as the GOP seeks to significantly narrow the nine-seat majority Senate Democrats currently enjoy.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) is likely to enjoy a massive fundraising edge over former state Assemblywomen Sharron Angle (R), while it's not yet clear whether Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) can raise the money to compete with a candidate against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).

In Colorado, appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) has lapped the field in fundraising and California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) continues on a financial tear although former HP executive Carly Fiorina's self-funding abilities make the incumbent's edge less pronounced.

Republicans will also be training a close eye on former Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, who will be filing his first fundraising report after getting a very late start on running against Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Murray had $5.9 million cash on hand at the end of the first quarter. (UPDATE: Rossi reported $1.4 million raised late on Tuesday.) The same goes for Wisconsin where businessman Ron Johnson (R) is untested and faces Sen. Russ Feingold who ended March with $4.3 in the bank.

To win back the majority -- and we'll have a more detailed post on that prospect tomorrow -- Republicans need to not only win a majority of competitive open seats, which, financially at least, they are well positioned to do but also need to make inroads among the far better funded Democratic incumbents. That will likely be the focus of the third -- and most important -- fundraising quarter of the year for those GOP challenger candidates and could well determine just how big Republican gains will be this fall.

By The Fix  |  July 13, 2010; 4:16 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Robert Bentley clinches Republican nod for governor in Alabama

Comments

Republicans really do have a huge opportunity to become the majority this year. I really think Republicans will keep all of our seats, as the toughest will be Missouri & Florida. I think Rubio & Blunt will pull it out, albeit close. Kentucky will also be close, but Paul will pull this out unless Conway can win running conservative on National defense against Paul. I think Republicans have an inside tract to 4 fairly easy seats: Delaware, Arkansas, North Dakota & Indiana. If Republicans keep all of their seats & win those 4, they must then win 6. Their prospects: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Washington, Colorodo, Nevada, California & Connecticut. I think Republicans have the best shots in Colorodo, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin & California. Washington & Connecticut are on the rader, but will be very tough wins. The NRSC will help Rossi compete in Washington but will rely on McMahon's spending to put Conn. in play. Also, West Virginia is in play but if Manchin runs, Capito may not. If that happens, that makes WV a long shot as well.

Posted by: reason5 | July 14, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

leichman, I see you are still the village idiot posting endless libspew. Your daily whining is becoming tiresome...as are all libs. America will be grading the libs and the agenda of the poser in the WH in Nov. and will find them severely lacking.
The latest news is that the fed just stated that abortions will be paid with taxpayers money starting in PA. Address the daily lies and libspew coming from this administration and spare us the liberal lunacy.

Liberalism is a disease!

Posted by: steelers01 | July 14, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I think finance whiz is angling for an official stooge position.

Posted by: Moonbat | July 13, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Does not look good for the hapless libs.

Just wait until the corporations start exercising thier first amend rights. The libs will be toast.

Posted by: Moonbat | July 13, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Leichtman, I don't think that's fair. I think it's instructive to see how candidates are doing in open districts where voters presumably know less about the candidates and have opinions more malleable by advertising.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 13, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Curious Aaron: the D Congressional Committee has a 3x1 money advantage and yet you fixate on the R Senate advantage.
And tomorrow you promise us more of this GOP garbage.
Sorry didn't realize that I was now at
the Faux News blog site, apparently that is what you and CC have decided to make this. Perhaps someone needs to start tracking the Fix's threads which have become 90+% Ra Ra GOP free advertising displays.

Posted by: leichtman1 | July 13, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Coats has only raised $292,000??
Heck I know local candidates running for city council races that have raised 2x3 times that. I thought Coats was the GOP Golden boy. Looks like Ky might end up being a 2-3 point race, just don't see a D having a prayer there when they can elect someone like Jim Bunning.

Posted by: leichtman1 | July 13, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Gallup and Field polls still have Boxer up by 3 points and she hasn't spent a dime yet advertising. Just wait and see what Boxer does when she is finished with the never voted/fired & failed EX HP CEO.
I wouldn't get too excited ken this is about as close as Carly will get to the US Senate.

Posted by: leichtman1 | July 13, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Boxer is behind in the latest polls. If Boxer can't win in one of the bluest states in the country, Obama's goose is cooked.

Posted by: kenpasadena | July 13, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Although the headline seems a little misleading, thanks for the summary of the numbers. Looks like an interesting season ahead.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 13, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Kirk's "misstatements," huh? Why use 13 letters where 4 will serve?

Posted by: Noacoler | July 13, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Christ, use a dictionary, would you? "Egregious?" Come on. Trying to channel George Will or something?

More rectal sunshine for the GOP, predictable as sunrise.

Posted by: Noacoler | July 13, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Once again, more proof that America knows better than to give Republicants more money to waste on even more foreign wars of adventure used to give resources in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or Somalia to their comrades in Russia and China using America's blood, toil, and tax dollars.

You created the Tea Bag Terrorists - and they're destroying you Socialist Republicans!

Posted by: WillSeattle | July 13, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Gee, another myth debunked. I thought the R's were the party of big money. Can the R's convince Soros to be bi-partisan?

Posted by: leapin | July 13, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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