House Republican freshmen entered office with a mandate to cut spending, but some of their early fundraising totals suggest they're showing similar fiscal discipline with their campaign accounts.
As a whole, Republicans had a decent first fundraising quarter. The 87 GOP freshmen raised an average of $180,000 in the first three months of 2011 -- a respectable total. Among the 30 of them in competitive districts that President Obama carried in 2008, the average was somewhat higher, at $213,000.
The average haul of the 15 House Democrats in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline program, designed to protect their most vulnerable members, was $242,000 this quarter. The 13 House Republicans representing districts both Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Obama won averaged just $204,000 for the quarter.
But the averages obscure some telltale signs of weakness among individual members. At least three targeted Republican freshmen raised less than $100,000 for the quarter, and ten raised less than $150,000 -- a Mendoza line for House fundraising. By contrast, the worst performance among targeted House Democrats when they held the majority last cycle was that of former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), who only raised $130,000 at this point in 2009.
The weakest totals came from Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.), who raised a paltry $30,000 -- a total less than the inactive account of the congressman he defeated, Democrat Alan Grayson. New York Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle raised just $65,000. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), currently representing one of the most Democratic seats held by a Republican, raised just $106,000. Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.),already facing the same Democratic challenger who nearly defeated him amid a GOP headwind, brought in just $120,000.
At the same time, there were some clear Republican fundraising standouts. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), one of the top GOP fundraisers last year, brought in $410,000. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who figures to face a tough re-election, was one of the leading GOP fundraisers with a $416,000 quarterly haul. Two top GOP targets, Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Bob Dold (R-Ill.), each topped the $300,000 mark.
Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who won tough races in 2010, also posted strong figures, bringing in $539,000 and $397,000, respectively. But both are likely to have easier re-election bids, given the conservative nature of their districts.
For vulnerable Democrats, the numbers were mixed as well. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who is likely to be hurt by redistricting, raised $464,000 in the quarter -- the highest for any targeted Democrat. Another redistricting target, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), raised a solid $367,000, which he may end up using for a Senate campaign. Proposed Missouri maps already predict Missouri Rep. Russ Carnahan's district disappearing, but he reported a strong $329,000 total.
Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) survived one of the closest reelection scares for any Democrat in 2010, and his first quarter fundraising didn't disappoint, as he brought in over $273,000.
But several other targets posted lackluster numbers. In North Carolina, the four Democrats likely to see their districts drawn to their disadvantage all raised less than $150,000. Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) raised just $77,000, Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) brought in just $33,000, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) raised $140,000, and Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) raised just under $150,000.
Other underwhelming totals belonged to Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.), a likely target in Pennsylvania, where they need to eliminate a district. He raised just $187,000, and will need much higher numbers if he's going to be forced to go up against another more entrenched incumbent. Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) raised just $138,000, another worrisome total given that two New York districts will be eliminated this year.
And Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), who found out this week he will be facing Republican congressman Tom Latham in his newly-drawn district, posted a weak haul of $147,000. That's well less than half of the $414,000 Latham brought in -- a promising sign for Republicans looking to pick up the seat.