Five takeaways from new Senate fundraising reports

Vulnerable Senate incumbents are seeing an influx of cash as they build up their campaign bank accounts ahead of tough races in the 2018 midterm elections.

Senate Democrats in particular have kept up their high-dollar fundraising, with the party defending 10 seats in places that President Trump carried in November.

Meanwhile, Democratic challengers are also posting strong fundraising quarters that are on track with Republican incumbents’ figures. But GOP primary challengers looking to take on their party’s incumbents are still behind as they mount upstart challenges.

Here are five takeaways from Senate incumbents’ and challengers’ third quarter fundraising reports:

Vulnerable incumbents still raking in millions

Vulnerable incumbents, particularly Democrats, are continuing to build on their significant fundraising hauls from previous quarters. 

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Four vulnerable Senate Democrats topped $2 million, with Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties Senate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns Amash on eyeing presidential bid: ‘Millions of Americans’ want someone other than Trump, Biden MORE (D-Mo.) leading the pack with $2.9 million raised in the third quarter. She raised the second-most of any Senate incumbent or candidate, trailing Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) by less than $50,000.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Democratic senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D-Ohio) raised $2.6 million, while Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden launches program to turn out LGBTQ vote We need a ‘9-1-1’ for mental health — we need ‘9-8-8’ Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump’s power under Insurrection Act MORE (D-Wis.) raised $2.4 million and Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick Casey21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests Overnight Health Care: Trump says US ‘terminating’ relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) brought in $2.2 million.

While Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has yet to announce whether or not he’ll run for the upper chamber against Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Lobbying world The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (D-Fla.), Nelson still raised nearly $1.8 million. Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D-Ind.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate confirms Trump’s watchdog for coronavirus funds Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (D-Mont.) each raised more than $1 million.

Vulnerable GOP incumbents are also raking in cash, even as they face primary challenges and tough general elections down the road. Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) raised $1.17 million, while Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE’s (R-Ariz.) raised $1.1 million, according to Washington Examiner. 

Dem challengers outraising or keeping pace with GOP incumbents

Unseating an incumbent is always a tough feat, since they typically have fundraising advantages and better name recognition. But many Democratic challengers are keeping up with their incumbent GOP rivals. 

Heller was narrowly outpaced by his likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), who pulled in $1.19 million, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal. Heller still maintains a substantial cash on hand advantage of about $3 million.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who is running to unseat Flake, raised $1.08 million, which was slightly behind the GOP senator’s haul. But Sinema has a larger balance, nearly $4.2 million compared with Flake’s $3.4 million.

While Texas isn’t seen as having a competitive race, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police MORE’s (R-Texas) likely Democratic competitor is still raising money at a high clip. Cruz, who raised $1.76 million, outpaced Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), but only by about $52,000. The Texas GOP senator still has a larger cash advantage with nearly $3 million more in his campaign account.

Alabama Dem sees influx of cash, lags in polls

Alabama’s Senate seat is expected to remain in GOP hands, but after former judge Roy Moore advanced out of the GOP runoff, Democrats are mulling whether they have a chance in the deep-red state.

Moore, who was suspended twice as a state Supreme Court chief justice, filed a pre-runoff fundraising report where he raised more than $960,000 between the end of July and early September. He ended with $285,000 in his campaign account on Sept. 6.

His Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, had low sums of money prior to the Democratic primary, but has seen a surge in donations as Democrats eye the seat. The former U.S. attorney raised more than $1.3 million from the end of July to the end of September. He has $1 million cash on hand.

Polls have shown Moore leading Jones by a single-digit margin, but a recent Fox News poll has been an outlier, with the two candidates tied.

Moore will have the chance to boost his fundraising with a Washington fundraiser in early November with headliners including Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Louisville passes ‘Breonna’s Law’ banning no-knock warrants Rand Paul aide joins Trump campaign, RNC fundraising group MORE (R-Ky.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senate headed for late night vote amid standoff over lands bill Hillicon Valley: Facebook employees speak up against content decisions | Trump’s social media executive order on weak legal ground | Order divides conservatives MORE (R-Utah), who recently endorsed him.

Fundraising gives candidates edge in crowded primaries 

Primary season won’t start until next year, but fundraising could help elevate some candidates in crowded primaries.

In Indiana, GOP Rep. Luke Messer raised about $734,000, compared with GOP Rep. Todd Rokita, who raised about $433,000. Messer has a slight cash on hand advantage, but has a debt of about $93,000. This comes after Rokita outpaced Messer nearly 2-to-1 in the last fundraising quarter. Republican Mark Hurt is way behind with only $3,067 cash on hand.

In Montana, state auditor Matt Rosendale (R) raised more than $413,000, while businessman Troy Downing raised more than $311,000. Rosendale has the backing of Great America Alliance (GAA), the pro-Trump outside group with ties to former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon. State Sen. Al Olszewski (R) was further behind with about $127,000. Retired Judge Russell Fagg announced this month and won’t need to file a fundraising report for the third quarter. 

In West Virginia, GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins hauled in about $220,000, but it remains to be seen how much state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) has raised. Morrisey could receive a bump now that he’s endorsed by GAA.

All GOP candidates are behind in fundraising compared with the Democratic senators they’re trying to unseat.

Insurgent candidates lagging in cash amid challenges to incumbents

Bannon has vowed to play in GOP primaries, which could give them an extra boost in trying to unseat incumbents. So far, these upstart candidates underperformed against the incumbents when it comes to fundraising.

In Arizona, former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) raised just shy of $700,000 this quarter, a sizable uptick from her previous fundraising. But Ward, who unsuccessfully ran against Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Cindy McCain ‘disappointed’ McGrath used image of John McCain in ad attacking McConnell Report that Bush won’t support Trump reelection ‘completely made up,’ spokesman says MORE (R-Ariz.) last year, ends September with less than $300,000 in her campaign account. That’ll be tough to compete with Flake in the primary or Sinema in the general election, each of whom has millions in their accounts.

Republican Danny Tarkanian will likely run into a similar problem challenging Heller in Nevada. Fresh off a failed House bid, Tarkanian raised a little more than $300,000 and has about $278,000 cash on hand. The son of the late University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian has run for office several times, including a Senate run in 2010.

Bannon has formally endorsed Ward and campaigned with her in Arizona last week. The Breitbart News head has yet to formally weigh in on Tarkanian and Nevada’s Senate race, but support from Bannon and GAA could give both candidates the financial boost they need to stay competitive.

Updated at 6:08 p.m.

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