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First quarter fundraising: Winners and losers

at 04:18 PM ET, 04/16/2012

While many Americans are busy filing their taxes this week, many politicians were filing their first quarter financial reports last weekend.

Which means The Fix has spent a good portion of the day combing through all the House and Senate candidates’ quarterly financial reports.

We won’t bore you with all the details, but we will give you some highlights. So, without further ado, we bring you our first quarter fundraising winners and losers...

WINNERS
A yard sign calling for voters to "retire" Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in New Palestine, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

* Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts Democrat has become a mainstay on this list. Look at it this way: Her opponent, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), raised more money than any other incumbent last quarter, with $3.4 million, and she raised twice as much as him, with $6.9 million. She has also closed the cash-on-hand gap in a hurry; she trails $15 million to $11 million now.

* Richard Mourdock: With $875,000 raised, Mourdock outdid both his incumbent GOP primary opponent, Sen. Richard Lugar ($820,000), and his potential general election opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D), who pulled in just $312,000 for the quarter.

* Heather Wilson: The Republican former congresswoman got a big boost when Lt. Gov. John Sanchez dropped out of the GOP Senate primary, and now she’s reaping the benefits. With Sanchez out of the Senate race, Wilson upped her fundraising to $760,000 in the first quarter. That’s significantly more than the Democratic frontrunner, Rep. Martin Heinrich, who raised a modest $490,000 and still faces a primary with state auditor Hector Balderas ($127,000 raised).

* Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.): What recall? The Democratic Senate candidate raised a whopping $2 million in the first quarter despite all of the focus on Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) recall election. Meanwhile, the top GOP fundraiser, former governor Tommy Thompson, raised just $660,000 — which is not top-tier money — and faces a tough Senate primary race.

* Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.): She raised $2.3 million in the first quarter, which is nearly $1 million more than her previous best. She’ll need all the money she can get to keep her job in a very tough state with conservative super PACs primed to flood the airwaves.

* Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): After getting outraised by former governor Linda Lingle (R) $1.8 million to $625,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011, Hirono closed the gap, trailing just $1.3 million to $1 million. It was Hirono’s strongest quarter yet and a good sign for Democrats, who would rather not have to spend money trying to hold a seat in heavily Democratic Hawaii.

* Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.): Lungren has been getting outraised by his Democratic opponent, Ami Bera, for the better part of the last three years. (Lungren beat Bera 50 percent to 43 percent in 2010.) In the first quarter, though, the incumbent congressman turned the tables, raising a very strong $505,000 and banking nearly $900,000. Bera also had a good quarter, raising $367,000, and still has more cash on hand, at $1.1 million.

* Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.): He was dealt a tough hand thanks to redistricting, moving from a safe seat to a swing seat. But raising $530,000 should serve notice that he’s ready for the race ahead. Coffman has already raised $1.6 million this cycle.

* Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.): Calling two-fifths of House Democrats ”communists” is a great way to raise money. The conservative firebrand raked in $1.8 million in the first quarter.

* Tony Strickland: The Republican state senator from California raised a huge $781,000 in the first quarter for his run at a competitive open House seat in the 26th district, besting both Democratic state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley and independent Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks by half a million dollars. If the GOP can snatch this seat, it would go a long way toward stopping some of the bleeding after a tough redistricting draw.

* The Kennedy family: Joseph Kennedy III’s huge $1.3 million spoils makes him the clear favorite to succeed retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and return the Kennedy family to Congress. It’s also proof that the Kennedy name still means a lot in Massachusetts.

LOSERS

* Don Stenberg: The Nebraska state treasurer hasn't been able to parlay support from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and the Club for Growth into any fundraising momentum in the state’s open Senate race. He raised just $244,000 in the first quarter and has just $269,000 cash on hand for his primary against state Attorney General Jon Bruning ($1.4 million cash on hand). Stenberg said that “campaigns are not fundraising contests,” but in reality, they are.

* Rep. Joe Donnelly: It’s getting harder and harder to take Democrats seriously when they say they might win the Senate race in Indiana — in large part because of Donnelly’s fundraising. The congressman is still raising money like a congressman and not a Senate candidate, having failed to clear even $360,000 raised in each of the last three quarters. It’s looking more and more like Democrats could get the Republican matchup they want with Richard Mourdock rather than incumbent Richard Lugar, but Donnelly isn’t showing himself to be anything close to a top-flight candidate yet. And it’s getting late.

* Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.): Don’t get us wrong — $935,000 is a fine quarter, and he outraised his likely Democratic opponent, Richard Carmona, who pulled in $800,000. Flake has also been getting strong marks for his campaign. The reason Flake lands here is because his wealthy GOP primary opponent, businessman Wil Cardon, dropped $3 million of his own money into his campaign. That’s money that Flake has to deal with (assuming Cardon actually spends it).

* Rep. Roscoe Barlett (R-Md.): Not only did the incumbent win his primary this month with just 44 percent of the vote; he also got outraised $800,000 to $255,000 by his new Democratic opponent, John Delaney. And that’s not counting the $1.7 million Delaney has self-funded. Given that Bartlett now has a Democratic-leaning seat (thanks to redistricting), it’s hard to call him anything short of an underdog.

* GOP freshmen: According to our count, at least 15 House Republicans were outraised in the fourth quarter, and 13 of them were freshmen. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but incumbents are not supposed to get outraised. That said, it might be more that their Democratic opponents were just that good; about half of these Republicans raised at least $275,000.

* Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.): The moderate Pennsylvania congressman faces a very well-funded primary challenge from attorney Matt Cartwright, who raised $325,000 and self-funded $380,000 in the first quarter. Holden actually raised more money than Cartwright, pulling in $439,000 for the quarter, but he spent his cash reserves down to $132,000 as of April 4 — with three weeks left in the primary.

* Dan Liljenquist: On the eve of the Utah state GOP convention, Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) top Republican challenger raised less than $170,000 and seeded his campaign with another $300,000 — and he was still outraised more than two to one by Hatch, who pulled in $1.3 million. There are really no good signs for Liljenquist right now.

 
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