Freshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race
Freshman Democrats in the House blew the doors off the money race in the first quarter of 2019, firing a warning shot at Republicans eager to recapture control of the chamber in 2020.
More than a dozen freshman Democratic lawmakers reported fundraising totals surpassing $500,000 each, while more than two dozen brought in upwards of $400,000 in the first three months of the year, an analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports by The Hill found.
Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) took the top spot among his peers, bringing in roughly $870,000 in the first three months of 2019, while Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHow language is bringing down Donald Trump Biden, Democrats seek to shut down calls to defund police McEnany, Ocasio-Cortez tangle over ‘Biden adviser’ label MORE (D-Minn.), who has faced accusations of making anti-Semitic remarks in recent weeks, reported raising roughly $832,000.
The numbers, made public in FEC filings, are particularly significant given that fundraising tends to ebb in nonelection years.
Taken together, they suggest that Democrats are holding on to the momentum that helped them recapture control of the House last year.
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Meanwhile, Republicans are eager to take back the House majority that they lost in November.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP’s campaign arm, has already put 55 Democratic-held districts on its target list for 2020, including 31 that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won in 2016.
Many Democrats in those targeted districts have already started stockpiling money ahead of 2020.
Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamRepublican Nancy Mace to face Joe Cunningham in South Carolina House race OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump rule limits states from blocking pipeline projects | EPA finalizes rule to regulate cancer-linked chemical | Democrats want Congress to help plug ‘orphan’ oil and gas wells Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D-S.C.), who flipped a district that Trump carried by 13 points and is among those the NRCC is targeting, brought in more than $663,000 in the first three months of 2019. He ended the quarter with more than $500,000 in the bank.
Likewise, Rep. Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Buzz builds around Warren for VP Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE (D-N.Y.), who won last year in a district Trump won by nearly 7 points, reported a massive $754,000 haul. He still has $682,000 in cash on hand.
Other top fundraisers in the first quarter include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAttorney says 75-year-old man shoved by Buffalo police suffered brain injury How language is bringing down Donald Trump Highest-circulation Kentucky newspaper endorses Charles Booker in Senate race MORE (D-N.Y.), who brought in more than $726,000 and finished the quarter with more than $800,000 in the bank; Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The American Investment Council – Trump takes his ‘ready to reopen’ mantra on the road The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race Republican flips House seat in California special election MORE (D-Calif.), who raised roughly $605,000 and ended March with $590,000 on hand; and Rep. Max RoseMax RoseDe Blasio: Robert E Lee’s ‘name should be taken off everything in America, period’ The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: New America’s Anne-Marie Slaughter says countries around world are deciding not to trust US; All eyes on New York as city begins phased reopening Max Rose calls for National Guard to be deployed to NYC to enforce curfew MORE (D-N.Y.), who raked in about $579,000 and reported having $620,000 in the bank.
Already, several Democratic freshmen have GOP challengers raising money to unseat them.
Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican New York state assemblywoman, reported bringing in more than $300,000 for her bid to oust Rose.
And former Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelJon Ossoff to challenge David Perdue after winning Georgia Democratic primary The Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Ossoff within reach of Democratic Senate nomination in Georgia, but counting continues MORE (R-Ga.), who’s looking for a rematch against Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathFloyd’s brother urges Congress to take action The Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE (D-Ga.) after her defeat last year, raised more than $238,000 in the first quarter.
Much of the money flowing to first-term Democrats came from outside their states.
For instance, roughly 84 percent of Rep. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerIowa Republican Ashley Hinson wins House primary Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California The Hill’s Campaign Report: Buzz builds around Warren for VP MORE’s (D-Iowa) first-quarter haul came from out-of-state donations. Likewise, 71 percent of contributions to Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-N.J.) campaign came from outside New Jersey.
The flood of out-of-state campaign cash underscores the extent to which House races have become national affairs.
For Republican freshmen, the fundraising outlook was markedly different. None of the 29 new GOP House members hit the $500,000 mark in the first quarter.
Among the class’s top fundraisers were Rep. Van TaylorNicholas (Van) Van Campen TaylorFormer Texas Rep. Sam Johnson dies at 89 House GOP urge Trump against supporting additional funding for state and local governments Congress tiptoes toward remote voting MORE (R-Texas), who brought in roughly $417,000 and ended the period with about $473,000 in the bank, and Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawGOP lawmakers call for new sanctions on senior Chinese officials Michigan suspends license of barber who vowed to keep his shop open ‘until Jesus comes’ The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Rep. Hurd says China engaged in global disinformation campaign; US unemployment highest since Great Depression MORE (R-Texas), who raised $399,000 in the first three months of 2019 and closed out the quarter with $368,000.
Some of the most vulnerable House Republicans, however, posted strong fundraising numbers as they look to head off potentially tough reelection bids next year.
Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse Republicans hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation House GOP delays police reform bill The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests MORE (R-Texas), for instance, raked in about $524,000 between January and March, according to FEC filings. And Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickBipartisan group demands House prioritize communities of color in coronavirus relief bill Fitzpatrick to face Democrat Christina Finello in key Pennsylvania House race Key races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries MORE (R-Pa.) reported raising $371,000 and $440,000 respectively. All three are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of 2020 targets.
Republicans need a net gain of roughly 20 seats to win back control of the lower chamber next year.
They are hoping that, with Trump on the ballot, the party’s base voters will flock to the polls and ultimately boost their candidates down ballot.
But Trump’s presence on the ticket in 2020 is likely to be a double-edged sword, with Democrats betting that the president’s deep unpopularity among their core constituents and more moderate voters will allow them to not only hold on to their House majority but expand it.