The Campaign Spot

Quite a Few GOP Challengers Are a Bit Cash-Poor Compared to Their Rivals

Quarterly fundraising numbers are coming out in dribs and drabs.

My initial assessment is that a lot of Republican campaigns are at least mildly underfunded, and in some cases, quite underfunded. I’m sure this comment will bring a lot of campaigns to my e-mailbox and phone, saying, “No, no, we’re doing fine! We’re comfortable where we are! But send some cash anyway!” Of course, money is far from the most important factor in a campaign.

There are some GOP challengers who are doing fantastic.

In Florida, Marco Rubio has had two phenomenal quarters and has outraised Charlie Crist this past quarter; he still has a cash-on-hand disadvantage, although I suspect that will narrow further. In Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey has proven a throughly effective fundraiser — I suspect it’s because I keep seeing his ads on NRO — and has twice as much cash on hand as Joe Sestak. In Nevada, Sharron Angle is guaranteed to be outspent, but with that caveat, she’s actually doing pretty well, raising $2.6 million in a quarter. Her cash-on-hand disadvantage is still $1.8 million to $9 million.

Then there’s the North Carolina phenom Ilario Pantano, who’s outraising a longtime incumbent almost 2 to 1:

For the quarter, the Pantano campaign raised $211,720 compared to $114,119 for Congressman McIntyre. Pantano raised over $100,000 from supporters in the 7th District and outraised McIntyre by a better than 5 to 1 margin in the district. Since entering the race on January 27th, Pantano has raised $320,930. Over that same time period, McIntyre has only raised $213,243.

So which GOP candidates are looking a bit low on cash after this quarter?

Mike Kelly looks like he has the skills to be a strong challenger in Pennsylvania’s 3rd district. It’s not a terribly expensive district, but a 10-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage for incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper is ominous.

In the neighboring 4th district, Jason Altmire is on everybody’s list of vulnerable Democrats to watch, but GOP challenger Keith Rothfus has to make up a 7-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage.

In Pennsylvania’s 8th district, I have little doubt that Mike Fitzpatrick will give incumbent Democrat Patrick Murphy a tough challenge, but he’s still looking at a 3-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage.

And in the 10th district, Tom Marino has only about $11,000 on hand, going up against Chris Carney, another incumbent who looks beatable under the right circumstances.

In West Virginia’s 3rd district, Elliot “Spike” Maynard appears positioned to give Nick Rahall a stronger-than-usual push, but it will be tough to overcome a 15-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage.

Close to my neck of the woods, an expensive, tough primary left Republican Keith Fimian with about $271,000 on hand, while incumbent Democrat Gerry Connolly has more than $1.2 million. I actually think Morgan Griffith has a terrific shot against incumbent Rick Boucher in Virginia’s 9th district, but Boucher’s sitting on a stockpile of $2 million.

In North Carolina’s 2nd district, Renee Ellmers is a strong candidate, but she’s still financially outgunned against Bob “Who are you?” Etheridge. I can’t believe Jeff Miller, the Republican running against Heath Shuler in North Carolina’s deeply conservative 11th district, is facing a 21-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage.

When you run against the House Budget Committee chairman, you’re probably going to be outspent, but Mick Mulvaney is at roughly a 3-to-1 disadvantage against John Spratt in South Carolina’s 5th district.

Mind you, this is just perusing the filings for East Coast states that have had their primaries already. As I said, money isn’t everything, and some of these candidates will be able to count on help from party committees and independent groups that prefer them over their rivals. But a year where the atmosphere is fantastic for the GOP is not yet translating to great finances for every GOP candidate. Of course, perhaps it’s hard to raise money in this economy. (Perhaps this is all a brilliant gambit by President Obama and congressional Democrats: mismanage the economy so badly that no opponent can raise any money!)

Some may interpret this post as a “hey, give to these candidates” appeal. Nope, my job is not to tell you where to send your money — er, besides subscribing to National Review, helping during our pledge drive, going on the cruise, and advertising on the site and in the magazine — but if you do want to donate to your preferred candidate, do so. But I actually think volunteering for a campaign can be more effective; money can buy things, but volunteers can do things.


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