Heated U.S. congressional races on pace to break fundraising records
By Grant Smith and Ginger Gibson
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – This year’s U.S. congressional campaign season is on pace to break fundraising records, driven in part by unprecedented hauls by at least five candidates from both major parties, according to a Reuters analysis of campaign finance disclosures.
Candidates for the House of Representatives have collectively raised $1.2 billion from January 2017 through the end of September, more than the inflation-adjusted $1 billion record set at this point in the 2010 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data.
Senate candidates – who have six years to raise funds due to their longer terms – have raised more than $950 million, surpassing the $844 million raised during the same period ahead of the 2010 election.
The records are a sign of the intense fight by the Democratic and Republican parties ahead of the Nov. 6 elections. Democrats are aiming to pick up 23 seats in the House and two in the Senate in an effort to take control of Congress and block Republican President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Republicans are eager to retain control of both chambers, which has allowed them to pass an extensive tax cut package and confirm two conservatives to the Supreme Court.
Democrats collectively out-fundraised Republicans. Senate Democrats raised at least $551 million, while Republicans raised at least $368 million. House Democratic candidates raised at least $680 million while Republicans raised at least $540 million.
The apparent Democratic edge may have been exaggerated by large numbers of candidates contesting primaries, said Michael Malbin, director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.
“I’m not seeing an overwhelming advantage for the Democrats,” Malbin said.
A handful of candidates broke individual records.
Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who is challenging Republican Senator Ted Cruz, was the only Senate candidate who broke an individual fundraising record. He brought in nearly $63 million, besting former Senator Hillary Clinton’s record 2006 inflation-adjusted haul of nearly $61 million.
O’Rourke’s total included a record-setting $38 million third quarter.
Four House candidates broke that chamber’s previous record, which was set in 2008 when Colorado Republican Jared Polis raised about $8 million. Republicans Devin Nunes of California, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Karen Handel of Georgia and Pennsylvania Democrat Conor Lamb all exceeded that mark.
Nunes raised $10.6 million, the highest total for a House Republican running for re-election who did not chip in personal wealth to their campaign.
Factoring in people who funded their own races, Democrat and liquor entrepreneur David Trone of Maryland raised the most of any House candidate, with his campaign taking in $16.5 million.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson in Washington and Grant Smith in New York; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)
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