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Quick Guide to Senate Fundraising

Senate candidates reported their contributions and expenditures for the past three months earlier this week. After sorting through scads of numbers (so you don't have to), here's a Cliffs Notes version of the information that really matters.

The Best: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) brought in $5 million from July 1 to Sept. 30, roughly doubling the next-highest total posted by an incumbent senator. For the cycle to date, she has brought in better than $26 million.  At the end of 1999 Clinton had raised roughly $7 million; she went on to rake in better than $40 million for her 2000 race. Assume $40 million is the fundraising floor for Clinton's 2006 race.  Patti Solis Doyle (PSD to insiders), Clinton's fundraising doyenne, refused to make predictions about just how high the fundraising totals will go before Election Day 2006.

The Worst: Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) raised a paltry $287,000 dollars in the period, far less than his three potential opponents: Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey (R), former state attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse (D) and Secretary of State Matt Brown (D). In fact Laffey, who is running in the GOP primary against Chafee, showed nearly $750,000 in contributions, though $360,000 of that total came from his own pocket.  Those familiar with Chafee's mindset explain that he simply does not like to raise money. Chafee spokesman Ian Lang pointed out that Chafee has raised more money during the cycle ($1.7 million) than any of the other three candidates. And Chafee is the only candidate not to dip into personal funds, which is important to note because he has significant personal wealth and many strategists believe he will dip into his own funds to finance his reelection race.

Primaries: The best way to divine which candidate in a crowded primary field is emerging as the front-runner is to follow the money. Whichever campaign is convincing voters and the party's deep-pocket contributors to write checks likely has the momentum in an intraparty squabble.

Democratic primaries in Minnesota and Maryland have produced a financial front-runner. In the race to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), Rep. Ben Cardin far outdistanced his opponents,  raising $877,000 in the quarter and showing cash on hand of $1.8 million. Former congressman and former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume continued to struggle in the money chase, bringing in just $80,000 and ending September with a meager $97,000 in the bank.

In Minnesota, where first-term Sen. Mark Dayton (D) is not seeking reelection, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (D) more than doubled the fundraising total of child safety advocate Patty Wetterling (D) over the past three months. And, Emily's List's endorsement of Klobuchar at the end of last month is sure to grow the gap even wider.

Much the same is true in Republican Senate primaries in Nebraska and Tennessee. Despite being the last candidate in the contest, former Ameritrade president Pete Ricketts led his Republican opponents in fundraising for the period. Ricketts raised $373,000 in the period compared to $172,000 for former state party chairman David Kramer and just $92,000 for former state attorney general Don Stenberg. All three are vying for the right to face Sen. Ben Nelson (D).

Former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker (R) continued to distance himself from the rest of the Republican field in the open-seat Tennessee race. Corker raised  $519,000 for the period and had a whopping $3.175 million in the bank. Former representative Van Hilleary (R) placed a distant second with $343,000 raised and $842,000 in the bank.

Tidbits: Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) raised $1.25 million in the quarter even as Gov. Mark Warner (D) announced he would not challenge the Republican next November. Allen, who is expected to cruise to reelection, is now sitting atop a $5.5 million warchest -- every cent of which could be transferred directly to another political account, such as a 2008 presidential exploratory committee.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) raised just $27,000 in individual contributions from July 1 to Sept. 30, a total sure to restart retirement rumors.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) had a huge quarter with more than $2 million raised; at the same time Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) struggled to kickstart her own Senate campaign, raising only $503,000.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 19, 2005; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Md. Senate: Steele's In


Posted by: casino | April 14, 2006 7:48 PM | Report abuse

When is the filing date for Mississippi? With these fundraising numbers, you're right, it certainly fuels the retirement rumors.

Posted by: Political Junkie | October 19, 2005 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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