GOP outpaces Dems in open Senate seat fundraising

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Associated Press

Posted on July 16, 2010 at 6:03 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are outraising Democrats in nearly a dozen open Senate races, increasing their hopes of significantly narrowing the Democrats' majority in November.

The differences are dramatic in some cases, such as Ohio. Republican nominee Rob Portman raised $2.6 million in the quarter than ended June 30, compared to about $1 million raised by Democrat Lee Fisher. Portman held a big cash-on-hand advantage: $8.8 million to $1 million, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. The two are seeking the seat being vacated by Republican George Voinovich.

Fundraising is more competitive in Kentucky, where GOP Sen. Jim Bunning is retiring. Rand Paul, who won a tough GOP primary, raised $1.1 million for the quarter. Democrat Jack Conway raised slightly less than that from donors, and he lent his campaign another $400,000. Neither campaign had more than $750,000 in the bank at the quarter's end.

Money separates the viable candidates from the also-rans, allowing hopefuls to run day-to-day campaign operations and buy expensive television ads. Cash also attracts more money from donors. Republicans need a net win of 10 seats to seize control of the Senate, and they're counting on well-funded candidates to deliver.

Most worrisome to Democrats is their lackluster fundraising in states where their members are retiring.

In Illinois, Republican Mark Kirk raised $2.3 million, while Democrat Alexi Giannoulias raised about $900,000. Kirk had nearly four times more money in the bank.

In Indiana, where Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh is leaving, Republican Dan Coats raised $1.5 million in the quarter, while Democrat Brad Ellsworth took in about $600,000. Ellsworth's campaign had somewhat more cash at the quarter's end, however.

Republicans are counting on rich self-funders in several states, such as Connecticut. Former pro wrestling magnate Linda McMahon has poured $21.5 million into her campaign to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd. She has spent heavily, and reported having $3.2 million on June 30.

Her likely Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, had $2.1 million in cash after raising more than $1 million in the quarter.

Less wealthy Republicans are doing well elsewhere. In Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey raised more than $3 million in the quarter, and had $4.6 million on hand. Democratic nominee Joe Sestak, who defeated incumbent Arlen Specter in a tough primary, raised $1.9 million for the quarter. He had about $2 million on hand.

In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist, an independent Senate candidate, raised $1.8 million during the quarter and had $8.2 million on hand. Republican Marco Rubio raised $4.5 million and had $4.4 million on hand.

Democrat Kendrick Meek raised more than $1 million in the quarter and held more than $4 million at the end. Billionaire Democrat Jeff Greene, a self-funder, has spent $5.9 million on the race.

"The momentum we're seeing on the ground and in the polls is translating to strong financial support," said Amber Marchand, a spokeswoman for the GOP campaign committee.

Democrats say the picture isn't as grim as the spending reports might suggest. In Illinois, for instance, Kirk has had to explain several exaggerated claims about his professional past. In Pennsylvania, Sestak can now turn his attention to Toomey, who had an easy path in the primary.

And Democrats are doing better in competitive races where they seek re-election.

In California, Sen. Barbara Boxer has an early fundraising lead over her GOP challenger, former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina. Boxer's campaign raised $4.6 million in the quarter and had $11.3 million in the bank.

Fiorina had $953,000 left after a tough primary. But the multimillionaire may pour huge amounts of her own money into the election.

In Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had $9 million at the quarter's end, compared to $1.8 million for Republican challenger Sharron Angle. But Angle, a tea party favorite, raised an impressive $2.3 million from late May to June 30. That nearly equaled the $2.4 million Reid collected in the full three-month reporting period.

In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln raised $2.6 million during the quarter, and had $1.9 million at the end. Republican John Boozman raised $623,000 and had $484,000 in the bank.

Elsewhere:

—In Missouri, Republican Roy Blunt raised $2.2 million in the quarter and had $4.5 million in the bank. Democrat Robin Carnahan raised $1.5 million and had $3.6 million on hand. Republican Sen. Kit Bond is retiring.

—In Wisconsin, Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold raised $1.4 million in the quarter, with $4.3 million banked. Republican millionaire Ron Johnson gave his campaign $1.5 million, and says he may give far more. His campaign had less than $1 million on June 30.

—In Washington state, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray raised about $1.6 million for the quarter and had $6.8 million on hand. Republican Dino Rossi raised about $1.4 million starting in late May, and had $1.3 million at the end of June.

—In Delaware, Republican Mike Castle raised $837,000 in the quarter and ended up with about $2.6 million. Democrat Chris Coons raised about $697,000 and had nearly $1 million banked. Democrat Ted Kaufman is leaving the seat.

—In New Hampshire, where GOP Sen. Judd Gregg is retiring, Democrat Paul Hodes raised $605,000 in the quarter and had $1.7 million on hand. Republican Kelly Ayotte raised $720,000 and had $1.2 million on hand. GOP businessman Bill Binnie, who has lent his campaign $3.5 million, had $1.1 million on June 30. The state's primary is Sept. 14.

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AP reporters Deanna Bellandi in Illinois, Michael R. Blood in Nevada, Randall Chase in Delaware, Andrew DeMillo in Arkansas, Brendan Farrington in Florida, Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., Susan Haigh in Connecticut, Marc Levy in Pennsylvania, David Lieb in Missouri, Norma Love in New Hampshire, Deanna Martin in Indiana, Dinesh Ramde in Wisconsin, Bruce Schreiner in Kentucky and John Seewer in Ohio contributed to this report.

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