This time, three vulnerable Democratic incumbents brought in over $1 million during the quarter. The top fundraiser was Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who hauled in $1.3 million and closed the year with $2.9 million to spend. While her 8th District should be a top GOP target—it voted for Donald Trump 51-44—you wouldn't know that from looking at the GOP candidates' numbers. The best-funded Republican by far was former ICE official Paul Junge, who raised just $125,000 and self-funded another $148,000, leaving him with just $235,000 in the bank.
Not far behind Slotkin were fellow Democratic freshmen Reps. Max Rose of New York and Katie Porter of California. Rose took in $1.2 million and had $2.5 million to spend, while Porter raised $1 million and had $2.7 million in the bank. Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis took in a distant $306,000 during this time and had $723,000 on-hand for her campaign to unseat Rose in this 54-44 Trump district. That's considerably better for the GOP than the situation in Porter's district, though, where not one Republican took in so much as $90,000 during the quarter.
That's not all the good news for Democrats looking to hold the House, though. Four more freshman Democrats in competitive seats raised over $900,000, while an additional six took in over $800,000. Another 19 Democrats who flipped seats last cycle also raised over $500,000 during the quarter. To put these numbers in perspective, during the fourth quarter of 2017, when the Republicans were trying in vain to hold the House, just two candidates in competitive seats raised more than $700,000.
There were a few bright spots for the GOP this time, though. Former Rep. David Valadao outraised Democratic incumbent TJ Cox $624,000 to $476,000 for their rematch in California's 21st District, and Valadao ended December with a $1 million to $887,000 cash-on-hand edge. In another Golden State return bout, Republican Young Kim outraised Democratic incumbent Gil Cisneros $488,000 to $383,000 in the 39th District, and she held a small $889,000 to $850,000 cash-on-hand lead.
Just two other Republicans looking to flip Democratic-held seats raised more than $400,000 from donors, and they both took in considerably less money than their opponents. Over in Iowa's 1st District, Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer outraised GOP state Rep. Ashley Hinson $602,000 to $432,000 and ended December with a $1.4 million to $735,000 cash-on-hand lead.
In the March top-two primary for the special election for California's vacant 25th District, meanwhile, Navy veteran Mike Garcia was the top GOP candidate with $405,000 raised and $313,000 in the bank. Former Rep. Steve Knight, who is Garcia's main intra-party rival, was far behind with just $122,000 raised and $106,000 on-hand. Garcia's haul was still well behind what the two main Democrats, Assemblywoman Christy Smith and political commentator Cenk Uygur, took in, though. Smith outraised Uygur $835,000 to $796,000, though Uygur held a small $652,000 to $592,000 cash-on-hand lead.
Of course, as we've noted before, we're comparing Democratic incumbents with Republican challengers in most of these races, but that just reflects the reality of next year's battlefield: The GOP has to go on offense, so the races that will determine control of the House will take place in districts held by potentially vulnerable Democrats. If Republicans can't match resources with Democrats, they're going to have a very hard time taking a majority.
The fundraising battle for the Senate isn't quite so lopsided, though: Democratic candidates outraised the Republicans $55 million to $49 million (including those who aren't running this year). Team Blue's fundraising all-star was Arizona's Mark Kelly, who outraised appointed Sen. Martha McSally $6.2 million to $3.9 million and held a wide $13.6 million to $7.7 million cash-on-hand lead. Democrats also outraised Republicans in Colorado, Kentucky, and Maine, but the GOP incumbents each had considerably more money to spend at the end of 2019.
Once again, the top GOP challenger, and the only one who outraised a Democratic incumbent, was Michigan's John James, who took in $3.5 million to Sen. Gary Peters' $2.5 million. Peters still ended 2019, though, with a $8 million to $6 million cash-on-hand lead.
There's a whole lot more to check out, so get busy scouring our House and Senate charts.
● AL-Sen: Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville has laid out at least $148,000 to run his first TV ad in the Republican primary. The spot begins with footage of Tuberville on the field during his coaching days, then pivots to him talking to the camera while driving. Tuberville calls himself a fighter and then lists off conservative boilerplate, labeling himself a "Christian conservative Republican." He rhetorically bear-hugs Trump and says he'll "build the wall."
● GA-Sen-B: DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Michael Thurmond, a Democrat, had been considering joining the Senate special election last fall but hadn't said anything about his interest in months. However, Thurmond recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he's "very happy" as DeKalb County CEO but has not "ruled it out" when it comes to a campaign.
Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver has filed with the FEC to run as a Democrat. Tarver recently said he would likely make his campaign official on or before Feb. 15.
● MD-07: On Tuesday, former Rep. Kweisi Mfume easily won the Democratic primary in the special election to replace Rep. Elijah Cummings, finishing with a 43-17 victory over Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is a former state party chair and the widow of the late congressman. State Sen. Jill Carter and Del. Terri Hill earned 16% and 7%, respectively, with no other candidate topping 5%. Mfume's victory in the primary all but ensures he will win the April 28 general election in this safely Democratic seat, which Mfume held under previous district lines from 1987 until he resigned in 1996 to become the president of the NAACP.
During his tenure at the legendary civil rights group, Mfume was credited with erasing the organization's $3.2 million debt he inherited and generally turning its finances around after years of deficits. Late in 2004, though, Mfume unexpectedly stepped down from his post, saying he wanted to spend more time with his young son. While he insisted he had not been forced out, last month the Baltimore Sun confirmed reports from 2005 that said Mfume had in fact been let go by the NAACP’s board due to poor performance reviews. After his departure, he ran for an open Senate seat in 2006, narrowly losing the primary to now-Sen. Ben Cardin.
While Mfume is a lock to return to Congress for the remainder of the current session, he’s not guaranteed to remain for long. Rockeymoore Cummings, Carter, and Hill have all said they will continue running in the regular primary for the full term in the next Congress, which will be on the same date as the April 28 special election to serve out the remainder of Cummings' term. However, with all three challengers continuing their campaigns, they could once more split the vote and allow Mfume to prevail with another plurality.
● TX-11: We now have the size of With Honor Fund's recent TV ad supporting Air Force veteran August Pfluger in the GOP primary: $214,000
● TX-28: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending $200,000 on a Spanish-language TV ad supporting conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar in next month's Democratic primary, making him the first Democrat they've spent serious money on since 2014. Their spot praises Cuellar for supporting job creation in the automobile industry.
● Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's three special elections:
GA-SD-13: Republicans Carden Summers and Jim Quinn will participate in a March 3 runoff after coming in first and second in Tuesday's all-party primary. Summers edged Quinn 43-42 for the lead while Democrat Mary Egler came in a distant third with 15%.
MN-HD-30A: Republican Paul Novotny defeated Democrat Chad Hobot 63-37 to hold this seat for the GOP.
MN-HD-60A: Democrat Sydney Jordan faced no major party opposition en route to holding this safely blue seat for her party. Jordan won 87% of the vote while her only competition, Marty Super of the Legalize Marijuana Now Party, received 12%. Write-in votes accounted for the remaining 1%.
This chamber is now operating at full strength with Democrats in control 75-59 in time for the 2020 legislative session, which begins on Feb.11.