Lipinski beat Newman 51-49 in 2018, but he doesn't enjoy anything like the financial advantage he had two years ago. Lipinski held an $868,000 to $628,000 cash-on-hand lead at the end of 2019, which is considerably smaller than his $1.6 million to $237,000 edge at the close of 2017.
Unlike last cycle, though, there's another well-funded candidate who could take anti-Lipinski votes from Newman. Activist Rush Darwish had $371,000 to spend in late December, and he's been airing TV ads to get his name out.
● GA-Sen-B: The anti-tax Club for Growth is out with its first TV spot in what Politico reports is a $3 million campaign against GOP Rep. Doug Collins. The narrator, who doesn't mention appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, declares that Collins is a creature of the "D.C. swamp" and accuses him of voting for hundreds of billions in new spending.
The commercial then charges Collins with supporting raising the debt ceiling and "wast[ing] billions on welfare boondoggles." The narrator goes on to say that Collins "took trillion-dollar bites from the budget funding frivolous projects like 3D models of alligator skulls."
The Club is hoping to weaken Collins early, and he may not want to spend money on his own ads to respond this far from Election Day. Collins ended 2019 with a $1.7 million war chest, which was considerably less than the $5.4 million that the self-funding Loeffler had available. Businessman Matt Lieberman, who had the Democratic side to himself for months, had $370,000 in the bank, while pastor Raphael Warnock launched his campaign in late January.
● NC-Sen: Faith and Power PAC, a mysterious group with plenty of GOP connections, is now spending a total of $2.4 million on ads promoting state Sen. Erica Smith in the March 3 Democratic primary. Smith herself put out a statement last week saying her campaign "disavows and disassociates ourselves from the interference of Republicans in the Democratic Senate Primary."
Meanwhile, a new super PAC called Carolina Blue is spending $347,000 on ads supporting former state Sen. Cal Cunningham in the contest to take on GOP Sen. Thom Tillis. Rob Pyers of California Target Book reports that Carolina Blue was created days ago by a former staffer from the DSCC, which is backing Cunningham.
Over the weekend, Cunningham also picked up an endorsement from the North Carolina Association of Educators.
● TX-Sen: Air Force veteran MJ Hegar is out with her first TV spot ahead of the March 3 Democratic primary to face GOP Sen. John Cornyn. There is no word on the size of the buy for this ad, which Hegar's campaign says will air in "select media markets."
The commercial features Hegar and her husband at home taking care of her young children as she asks the audience, "So what's it like being a helicopter pilot and a mom? I'm MJ Hegar, and you're looking at it." The candidate continues, "Look, I served three tours in Afghanistan, but just like you, I want to end family separation at our border and fight climate change for our kids. I earned a Purple Heart in combat, so quality, affordable health care for every Texan is my fight too."
Hegar then buckles her kids into her vehicle, which the audience soon sees is her helicopter. As the craft she's piloting takes off she concludes, "I'm just like every Texas mom… except on carpool days."
P.S. This spot makes this the second Texas Senate race we know of where one of the candidates made extensive use of a helicopter. Back in 1948, then-Rep. Lyndon Johnson rented a helicopter, a vehicle that few voters had ever seen at the time, to take him across the state and help him get much-needed attention. Unlike Hegar, though, LBJ never flew his vehicle, which was probably for the best.
● IN-Gov: Candidate filing closed Friday for Indiana's May 5 party primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here.
GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb is seeking a second term, and he doesn't face any serious intra-party opposition. The only Democrat who filed was former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers, who unsuccessfully ran for the 7th Congressional District in 2008.
While Holcomb was elected in an expensive race in 2016, he looks like the clear favorite this time around in this 56-37 Trump state. Morning Consult gave the governor a 51-23 approval rating for the final quarter of 2019, and Myers ended the year with almost no money in his campaign account.
● WV-Gov: After months of positive TV spots, former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher is going up with his commercial directly attacking Gov. Jim Justice ahead of their May GOP primary battle.
Thrasher tells the audience that Justice has "failed on what matters most." He continues, "Our roads, they're awful. Our economy, he's not concerned, he's doing just fine. Our drug crisis, it took Justice over 1,000 days before he did anything." Thrasher then declares, "Let's face it: The governor was more focused on his companies than you," and he concludes by pledging to deal with the state's problems as governor.
● FL-07: Healthcare and technology consultant Chelle DiAngelus announced Monday that she was joining the August GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy.
DiAngelus is a former executive at the faith-based healthcare company AdventHealth, which is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. DiAngelus began her campaign by saying she wanted to increase enforcement of background checks for gun purchases, a stance that could be a potential liability with conservative voters but help her in a general election.
A few other Republicans are also seeking this seat in the northern Orlando suburbs, and the top fundraiser for the fourth quarter was physician Leo Valentin. Valentin raised $185,000 during his opening quarter and self-funded another $70,000, and he ended December with $225,000 in the bank. Businessman Yukong Zhao, who we hadn't mentioned before, took in $120,000 during that time and had $116,000 in the bank.
Murphy had $1.1 million available at the end of 2019 to defend a seat that's been moving to the left in recent years. Hillary Clinton carried the district 51-44 four years after Barack Obama won it by an extremely narrow margin, and Murphy turned back a touted opponent 58-42 last cycle.
● IN-01: Longtime Rep. Pete Visclosky decided to retire in November, and 14 Democrats are running to succeed him. This northwest Indiana seat backed Hillary Clinton 54-42, and whoever wins the Democratic nod should have little trouble holding it.
The candidate who had the most money at the end of 2019 was Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, a self-described moderate who has been mentioned as a potential candidate for higher office for years. McDermott, who was considering challenging Visclosky for renomination before the incumbent retired in November, raised $170,000 during the quarter and had $124,000 to spend.
State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, who would be the first Latina ever represent Indiana in Congress, took in $69,000 from donors and self-funded another $30,000, and she had $96,000 on-hand. Attorney and 2018 Secretary of State nominee Jim Harper and North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan had $63,000 and $50,000 in the bank, respectively, while attorney and environmental advocate Sabrina Haake had $37,000 available. Another candidate, businesswoman Melissa Borom, entered the primary in January after the new fundraising quarter began.
● IN-05: GOP Rep. Susan Brooks is retiring from an ancestrally Republican seat in the Northern Indianapolis suburbs that has been shifting to the left in recent years. This district moved from 58-41 Romney to 53-41 Trump, and former Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly narrowly prevailed here 48.4-47.9 in 2018 even though he lost 51-45 statewide.
A total of 16 Republicans filed to run here, and there's no obvious frontrunner at this point in the contest. The candidate with the largest war chest at the end of 2019 was physician Chuck Dietzen, who has been self-funding part of his campaign and had $192,000 in the bank.
Businesswoman Beth Henderson, who has also done some self-funding, was next with $139,000 on-hand, while state Treasurer Kelly Mitchell had $96,000 available. Former commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Kent Abernathy had just $36,000 to spend while two other Republicans, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi and state Sen. Victoria Spartz, only entered the race last week.
The state of play is very different on the Democratic side, where former state Rep. Christina Hale is unlikely to face much trouble winning the nomination. Hale, who recently was added to the DCCC's Red to Blue List for top candidates, ended 2019 with $419,000 on-hand, considerably more than any of her intra-party rivals. Dee Thornton, who lost to Brooks 57-43 in 2018, had $52,000 to spend, while county prosecutor Andy Jacobs had just $7,000 in the bank.
● IN-08: While GOP Rep. Larry Bucshon showed some interest in retiring last year, he went ahead and filed to seek a sixth term in this safely red seat.
● NM-02: Oil businesswoman Claire Chase is out with what Politico reports is a six-figure opening TV ad campaign ahead of the June GOP primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Both of Chase’s commercials (here and here) portray her as a proud Trump ally, with one ad beginning: “Claire Chase is running for Congress for one reason: To support President Trump.”
Chase likely is going on the air early to try to establish herself as a Trump acolyte before she gets attacked over her #NeverTrumper past. Back in 2016, Chase fired off several anti-Trump social media posts, including one where she called him an "a**hole unworthy of the office" (asterisks in original; we wouldn't censor!) 2018 nominee Yvette Herrell, who is running again, has already indicated she’ll attack Chase over these old writings, though she hasn’t aired any ads yet.
Chase remains the best-funded Republican seeking this southern New Mexico seat, and she ended December with a $589,000 to $464,000 cash-on-hand lead over Herrell. However, Chase’s fundraising did take a plunge from her opening fundraising quarter: While she raised a hefty $511,000 during the third quarter, she took in $259,000 during the final months of 2019.
Herrell, by contrast, saw her fundraising increase during that time from $140,000 to $188,000. She’s still bringing in considerably less than Chase, though, and many Republicans won’t want Herrell as their nominee after she lost this 50-40 Trump seat to Torres Small. Another Republican, businessman Chris Mathys, has been self-funding almost his entire campaign, and he had $200,000 to spend at the end of December.
Torres Small has been one of the strongest fundraisers in the freshman Democratic class all cycle, and that continued during the fourth quarter. The incumbent raised $910,000, and she ended 2019 with $2.3 million on-hand.
● NY-02: Retiring Rep. Pete King endorsed Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino over the weekend in the June GOP primary to succeed him. King threw his backing to Garbarino after the legislator picked up the support of the chairs of the state GOP as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
● NY-12: On Friday, attorney Erica Vladimer dropped out of the June Democratic primary to take on Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Maloney faces a few other opponents in this safely blue New York City seat, including 2018 rival Suraj Patel. The congresswoman held off Patel 60-40 in an expensive race last time, and they’re in for another pricey contest.
Patel outraised Maloney $363,000 to $242,000 during his opening quarter, and he ended December with a small $345,000 to $324,000 cash-on-hand lead. A few other Democrats are running this time, though, and while none of them have much money, they could take some anti-incumbent votes away from Patel.
● NY-19: Attorney and Army veteran Kyle Van De Water announced over the weekend that he would seek the GOP nod to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado. Van De Water, who has also served as a trustee for the small village of Millbrook, joins fashion designer Ola Hawatmeh, who had just $5,000 on-hand, in the June primary for this 51-44 Trump seat.
It’s not clear if any other Republicans are eyeing this race, but businessman Bartle Bull has told the Times Union that he won’t run. This Hudson Valley seat hosted a very expensive race in 2018, and Delgado ended December with a $2.1 million war chest.
● NY-27: On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially set the special election to succeed disgraced former GOP Rep. Chris Collins for April 28, the same day as the state’s presidential primary. County chairs, rather than voters, select the nominees in New York special elections, and Republicans chose state Sen. Chris Jacobs last month. While Democrats haven’t officially picked a candidate, the chairs of the district’s eight counties have all endorsed 2018 nominee Nate McMurray.
● TN-01: Three Republicans recently took out paperwork with the state to run in the August primary for this safely red seat, though all of them stopped short of announcing they were in. Sullivan County Attorney Dan Street says that he plans to run, though he admitted that fundraising would be “a steep learning curve, and I’ll just do the best I can.”
Former state Rep. Charles Allen also recently said, “I am definitely serious ... I’ve not made an announcement yet, but I will soon.” Former Johnson City Mayor Steve Darden, who said a month ago that he intended to campaign to succeed retiring Rep. Phil Roe, also took out paperwork with the state, which he said “puts me one step closer to entering the race.”
● TX-13: On Monday, retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry announced that he was supporting Texas Cattle Feeders Association government relations director Josh Winegarner in the very crowded March 3 primary to succeed him in this ultra-red seat.
Winegarner raised $345,000 during his opening fundraising quarter, which made him the only candidate to hit the six-digit mark. Businessman Chris Ekstrom self-funded a larger $500,000, though Winegarner led him $282,000 to $176,000 in cash-on-hand. Amarillo City Councilwoman Elaine Hays was a distant third with just $30,000 to spend.
● TX-17: Retiring GOP Rep. Bill Flores waded into the packed primary to succeed him over the weekend and endorsed businesswoman Renee Swann. While Flores hasn’t taken sides before now, he’s made it clear for months that he did not want former Rep. Pete Sessions, who represented the Dallas-based 32nd District until just after his 2018 defeat, replacing him here.
While Sessions had plenty of connections in D.C. as a former NRCC chair, he’s not attracting big donors as he seeks a comeback 80 miles away from his old constituency. The top fundraiser during the fourth quarter was construction company owner Scott Bland, who edged Sessions $91,000 to $76,000 and self-funded an additional $31,000. However, Sessions had leftover money from his failed 2018 re-election campaign, and he ended December with a $220,000 to $107,000 cash-on-hand lead over Bland. Neither of those men had the largest war chest at the end of December, though.
Rocket scientist George Hindman barely raised anything from donors but self-funded $400,000, and he was just ahead of Sessions with $261,000 in the bank. Swann, who raised just $25,000 but self-funded $155,000, was next with $158,000 cash-on-hand. Former College Station City Council member Elianor Vessali raised $70,000, self-funded $50,000, and had $114,000 on-hand. It’s very unlikely that anyone will win a majority of the vote on March 3, so this primary is almost certainly going to be decided in the May runoff.
Whoever wins then will be heavily favored to prevail in November. This seat backed Trump by a wide 56-39 margin, and none of the Democratic candidates had more than $15,000 in the bank.