The candidates reported their quarterly fundraising totals in campaign finance reports Friday
By Chad Day and Siobhan Hughes Wall Street Journal Printed on October 17, 2021
Senate incumbents in competitive races hold multimillion-dollar campaign cash advantages more than a year out from the 2022 midterms, while fundraising totals were tighter in several closely watched Republican primaries where former President Donald Trump has made endorsements.
Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Raphael Warnock of Georgia—the four most at-risk Senate Democrats—all had millions of dollars more in their campaign accounts than their Republican challengers at the end of the third quarter, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
So did Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), though he was outraised by challenger Rep. Val Demings (D., Fla.) who is the best funded thus far of her party’s field in that race. Sen. Ron Johnson, (R., Wis.), who has yet to say whether he will seek reelection, held a narrower cash advantage over the Democratic candidates in the contest for his seat. The third quarter covers the period between July 1 and Sept. 30.
In Georgia, former football star Herschel Walker, who received Mr. Trump’s endorsement, raised the most of the Republican primary field with roughly $3.8 million. But fundraising totals were closer among Republican candidates in other Senate contests such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where the former president has weighed in.
While money doesn’t necessarily translate into electoral success, the latest campaign finance reports provide some insight into the state of play heading into a midterm election year where even one flipped Senate seat could decide control of the chamber. The Senate is split 50-50 but in Democratic hands due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaker vote.
“Democrats are still very good at raising money,” said Jessica Taylor, who follows Senate races for the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election tracker. “Those are the four most endangered Democrats, so they’re going to be needing to build up a war chest as best they can if the environment is bad for them.”
It is still early but President Biden’s sagging approval ratings have Democrats worried and Republicans seeing an advantage even though the GOP has one more competitive seat up this cycle than Democrats. Mr. Biden had a 43% approval rating in the first half of September, according to Gallup, although an Associated Press poll put his approval rating at 50% during the period from Sept. 23 to Sept. 27.
That compares with a 38% approval rating for Mr. Trump at the same point in his presidency, according to Gallup, and a 52% approval rating for President Barack Obama in the first September of his presidency. The parties of both prior presidents held control of the Senate in their first midterm elections, but lost control of the House.
So far, the Cook Political Report has rated five Republican-held seats and four Democratic-held seats as either tossups or leaning toward one party or another.
Across those competitive races, Mr. Warnock, who won his Georgia seat in a special election that was decided in a January runoff, raised the most money and had the largest campaign war chest. As of Sept. 30, his campaign reported $17.2 million in cash on hand after raising $9.5 million during the quarter.
In Arizona, Mr. Kelly raised $8.2 million and his campaign ended the quarter with $13 million in the bank. That was more than the $1.1 million raised by Republican candidate Blake Masters, an employee of technology billionaire Peter Thiel, and the $3.6 million in cash on hand reported by power company executive Jim Lamon, who has largely self-funded his campaign.
Ms. Cortez Masto raised roughly $3.1 million and reported $8.3 million in cash on hand. Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt reported raising $1.4 million and had $1.3 million in his campaign account, the most of any Republican candidates in the race.
In New Hampshire, Ms. Hassan raised slightly less than $3 million and reported having $6.5 million in her campaign coffers. That was more than Republican candidate Don Bolduc, who raised about $60,000.
In Florida, Mr. Rubio raised $6 million and ended the quarter with $9.6 million, while Ms. Demings raised nearly $8.5 million and had about $6 million in her campaign account as of Sept. 30.
The only toss up Senate race involving an incumbent is in Wisconsin, where Mr. Johnson’s campaign brought in a little more than $900,000 during the third quarter. That was behind Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, who raised more than $1.1 million.
Open Senate seats in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio also attracted millions in donations, though no candidate has pulled far ahead in the money race.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman raised nearly $2.7 million, followed by Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb, who brought in about $1.2 million. Republican candidate Sean Parnell, who received Mr. Trump’s endorsement, raised more money from individual donors than his intraparty rivals.
Still, Mr. Parnell trailed former ambassador and Trump fundraiser Carla Sands in cash on hand. Ms. Sands loaned her campaign $3.1 million during the third quarter, her filing shows.
In North Carolina, Rep. Ted Budd, who received Mr. Trump’s backing, and former GOP Gov. Pat McCrory raised about the same—roughly $1 million—during the quarter, though Mr. Budd has slightly more cash on hand. In that race, Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court, raised about $1.5 million, ahead of the $900,000 brought in by Democratic State Sen. Jeff Jackson.
In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan, a former presidential candidate, led the Democratic field to replace retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, raising $2.5 million and posting $3.6 million in cash on hand.
On the Republican side, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel had the most cash on hand with $5.9 million, while businessman Bernie Moreno loaned his campaign $3 million. This was also the first time author J.D. Vance, known for his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” disclosed his campaign finances.
Mr. Vance reported bringing in nearly $1.1 million, which included a $100,000 personal loan.
Write to Chad Day at [email protected] and Siobhan Hughes at [email protected]