With the Federal Election Commission's April 15 first-quarter reporting deadline coming up quickly, a number of senators chose to release fundraising numbers a little early on Thursday. The first fundraising report of a new election cycle is the least important, but there are still some interesting figures to mull in the rundown of today's Senate campaign news. Incumbents in nine states released their fundraising information from January through March.
Arkansas: Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, an early target of outside spending by Republican groups, raised $1.9 million in the first quarter and ended March with $3.4 million on hand. Though no candidate has yet announced a challenge to Pryor, GOP Reps. Steve Womack and Tom Cotton are considered strong possible contenders. Even without an opponent, Pryor wasted no time rolling out big-name help early in the cycle: Former President Bill Clinton raked in $1 million for the senator's reelection campaign at a kick-off event last month.
Hawaii: Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz's campaign announced he raised just over $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2013, which began just days after he was appointed to fill the vacancy left by late Sen. Daniel Inouye. The strong quarter leaves Schatz with over $1 million cash on hand to start and some room to grow in D.C. after receiving nearly 80 percent of his first-quarter contributions from fellow Hawaiians. Some of those D.C. connections are already paying off: Schatz's campaign boasted of leadership PAC donations from, among others, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Michael Bennet.
Democratic Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard, considered potential challengers to Schatz, have not released first-quarter fundraising numbers yet. Gabbard ended 2012 with over $320,000 in the bank, while Hanabusa had just under $55,000.
Louisiana: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu will report raising $1.2 million this quarter and ended March with $3.46 million in the bank -- more than twice the amount she had on hand at this point in her last reelection contest, according to her campaign. Landrieu's total was boosted, in part, by an early fundraiser with Vice President Joe Biden. GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, her only declared opponent thus far, said earlier this month that he had raised more than $500,000 during the same period. Cassidy's campaign did not supply cash-on-hand figures by publication time.
Minnesota: The Associated Press reported that Democratic Sen. Al Franken circulated a video with news that he raised just under $2 million in the first quarter and finished March with $2 million in the bank. That means Franken's campaign, who had almost $1.27 million cash on hand at the end of 2012, continued to burn money at a prodigious rate -- over 60 percent -- at the beginning of this year, just like it had the previous couple of years. In 2011 and 2012, Franken spent nearly $2.4 million whlie raising over $3.7 million.
New Hampshire: Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen announced she will report raising $1.23 million over the past three months. Her campaign ended the first quarter with $1.46 million in the bank. Shaheen hasn't drawn a GOP challenger yet, but several prominent New Hampshire Republicans (and one prominent Massachusetts Republican) are reportedly considering bids.
North Carolina: Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who has yet to draw serious opposition, raised more than $1.6 million during the first quarter and had $2.7 million on hand at the end of March, according to a release. Hagan has a long list of potential GOP challengers to try to scare off, however. State House Speaker Thom Tillis and state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger are expected to wait until the session ends this summer to make a decision about the race, and Rep. Renee Ellmers said this week she will decide in June. Reps. Patrick McHenry and Virginia Foxx have also been mentioned as potential candidates, though McHenry's spokesperson said Thursday that he has decided to run for reelection to the House.
Oregon: Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley brought in over $1 million in the first quarter of his first reelection cycle, boosting his cash on hand to $1.3 million, according to a report in the Oregonian. Merkley doesn't yet have an opponent and looks to be in good shape following a razor-thin victory in 2008. In fact, Oregon Republicans haven't yet found someone to run for either senator or governor in 2014, which prompted a little bit of black humor at the party's annual Dorchester Conference in March.
Tennessee: Over in the Volunteer State, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander's campaign announced that he raked in more than $1 million during the quarter and will hold four high-profile fundraisers, including one at fellow GOP Sen. Bob Corker's home, over the next two months. His only declared opponent, Democratic businessman Larry Crim, has yet to release his fundraising totals. "(I)n only 10 weeks and we are on pace to double that amount in the next quarter,” campaign finance chairman Steve Smith said.
Texas: The Dallas Morning News reported that GOP Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn collected $1.85 million in the first quarter, boosting his campaign's formidable bank balance to $4.2 million.
Meanwhile, no word yet on fundraising by the "tea party challenger" about whom the DSCC got so excited in February.
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