Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top 10 House Fundraising Standouts

From: Hotline On Call

We're now nearly a year out from the 2012 congressional elections, and the third quarter is a crucial marker for both vulnerable incumbents to beef up their bank accounts and for new challengers to prove their viability. This quarter can be a tricky one though - coming amid the summer doldrums and the August recess - and fundraising has been down across the board.

But a handful of candidates used the past three months to their benefit, racking up impressive fundraising numbers. We've picked out the top 10 members and candidates whose fundraising stood out among the hundreds of FEC reports Hotline pored through this weekend.

Stay tuned for our top 10 fundraising busts -- those who finished well below expectations.

1. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa: King, facing his first serious re-election challenge in a while from Democrat Christie Vilsack, got off to a slow start with his fundraising this year. But his numbers improved significantly this quarter, bringing in $400,000 and outraising the former Iowa First Lady. Vilsack still has more cash in the bank, with $546.000 to King's $497,000, but he proved he won't be a pushover.

2. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. West has a national conservative following, and he's been able to translate that into blockbuster fundraising tallies. This time, he raised $1.96 million, although he had an awfully high burn rate of $1.4 million, as well. He starts off the fall with a significant cash advantage over his Democratic opposition, with $1.82 million in the bank.

3. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y: Bishop had the best quarter of any of the DCCC's Frontline members, raising over $313,000 for his likely rematch with Republican Randy Altschuler, banking over $987,000. Bishop is doing what he needs to do on the money front to be in a good position for re-election next year.

4. Attorney Ann McLane Kuster (D). Talk about a fundraising standout. The repeat candidate raised more than twice as much money as Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H., bringing in $359,000 to Bass' meager $147,000 total.. She has the cash on hand edge early in the race, too, with over $590,000 in the bank to Bass's $488,000.

5. Illinois Republicans. Republicans up for re-election know they'll be facing tough times, thanks to the Democrat-engineered redistricting putting most of them in jeopardy. But both freshman and veterans alike showed they're ready for the challenge. Rep. Bobby Schilling raised a respectable $246,000, and he'll need every dollar to fend over Democratic opposition in a district that's tough for Republicans. In the Chicago suburbs, Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill, brought in $376,000 and has nearly $1 million in the bank.

One exception to the rule: Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Ill., who only brought in a paltry $152,000 and faces tough Democratic competition from former state Rep. Jay Hoffman in a vastly redrawn district - where he hasn't personally called most of his constituency.

6. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. An acolyte of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Denham didn't face much Democratic competition last year, running in a safely Republican seat. But with one of the Democrats' star recruits, astronaut Jose Hernandez, challenging him in a redrawn district, he'll need to raise all the money he can. He's off to a good start, bringing in $321,000.

7. Former Missouri Republican chairwoman Ann Wagner (R). Wagner was one of the top Republican fundraisers , raising an eye-popping $532,000. She easily outpaced her GOP rival Ed Martin, who raised only $115,000. And if Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., decides to run in the Second District, she will start out with a significant cash-on-hand advantage against the congressman, with $857,000 in the bank to Carnahan's $393,000.

8. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa. Anticipating a redistricting-fueled primary matchup against Rep. Mark Critz or Rep. Mike Doyle, Altmire stepped up his fundraising game, big-time. He brought in $388,000 for the quarter, comfortably outdistancing Critz's $308,000 haul. Altmire has already survived a tough year for his party, and his fundraising shows he's well-equipped to handle new challenges ahead.

9. Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth (D): This Democratic primary in Illinois's 8th District could end up being one of the priciest in the nation. Duckworth raised an impressive $478,000, with the backing of Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and top Obama strategist David Axelrod. But her primary opponent, former Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi, isn't going quietly, and he brought in a solid $313,000 this quarter.

10. Oregon state senator Suzanne Bonamici (D). Bonamici's eye-popping fundraising numbers suggest she's the frontrunner to succeed former Rep. David Wu in Oregon, and two internal polls she's released show her with a sizable lead. She brought in $600,000 in the quarter - including a $200,000 personal loan on the final day of the quarter - but even without that she's easily outdistancing her two Democratic primary rivals. Republican businessman Rob Cornilles also raised an impressive $505,000, but he still faces a tough challenge in a Democratic-friendly district.

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