Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds says he plans to raise $9 million for his Senate bid -- a massive number to float, given the low cost of advertising in South Dakota and the fact that he currently lacks a top-tier GOP primary or general election challenger and looks unlikely to get one.
The Argus Leader notes that the only South Dakota candidates to raise more were John Thune and Tom Daschle in their epic 2004 battle. In the hotly contested Senate race in neighboring North Dakota last year, Heidi Heitkamp raised far less, as did Rick Berg.
Setting a fundraising goal that may not be met can lead to unnecessary bad news stories for a candidate: Even if Rounds is raising a respectable amount of money, the comment potentially sets him up for "falling short" stories.
In the 2012 Connecticut Senate race, former GOP Rep. Chris Shays publicly stated during the fall of 2011 that his goal was to raise $1 million by the end of the year -- and then raised $400,000. That amount may not have seemed that bad, but in the context of him setting a much higher goal, it looked like failure and earned him numerous stories noting that he fell short of his target. Facing off against the wealthy, self-funding Linda McMahon also didn't help Shays.
Rounds has already come under criticism for poor fundraising performance; after starting strong with a $270,000 haul at the end of last year, he slowed his pace and raised $184,000 during the first quarter. Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club For Growth have both criticized Rounds and been open about their desire to back a different candidate in the race (SCF touted Rounds' total last quarter as "weak" and evidence that he "can be defeated in a primary."
Rounds wants to scare off anyone considering a challenge from the right with the next report -- and he further predicted a haul closing in on $500,000 for the quarter. But he'd have to start doing better than that to get to $9 million.