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Southern Democrats Raising Big Bucks

Despite a tough political environment, the party's most vulnerable candidates are bringing in millions.

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Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes was one of the Democrat's top fundraisers, bringing in more money than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.(AP Photo/Roger Alford)

As third quarter fundraising reports roll in, Democrats are hearing good news from an unlikely place -- the South.

In nearly every competitive Senate contest, southern Democrats outraised their Republican counterparts this quarter, which ran from July 1 to September 30. The South will be home to some of the party's most difficult races next year, including three vulnerable Democratic-held seats they're trying to hang onto -- in Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina -- and two potential, if difficult, pickup opportunities in Kentucky and Georgia.

 

Two of the party's most vulnerable incumbents, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan both outraised their top Republican challengers by more than a two-to-one margin. Landrieu raised $1.35 million in the third quarter, while Rep. Bill Cassidy brought in around $700,000, according to their respective campaigns. Hagan, meanwhile, raised nearly $1.9 million, while North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, brought in about $700,000 as well.

In Kentucky, Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes brought in an impressive $2.5 million in her first quarter as a Senate candidate, outraising Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who touted his "strongest quarter to date" in a release -- by about $230,000. Georgia's Michelle Nunn, another first-time Senate candidate, reported raising $1.7 million -- more than double what her top Republican rivals raised. GOP Rep. Jack Kingston and Georgia businessman David Perdue each raised about $800,000, while former Secretary of State Karen Handel and Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey reported raising about $300,000.

Both first-time Democrats still lag behind in cash on hand, however. McConnell has about $10 million in the bank to Grimes' $2 million. Both Gingrey and Kingston are reaching the $3 million mark, while Nunn hasn't released a cash on hand figure.

 

To be sure, there are two exceptions to the Democrats' fundraising wins this quarter. First, in Arkansas, where Republican Rep. Tom Cotton outraised incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor by a less than $6,000 -- a virtual tie give each candidate's million dollar hauls this quarter. And in West Virginia, Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant raised just $150,000, according to radio host Hoppy Kercheval, while Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito brought in $778,000, but Tennant's total represents just two weeks of fundraising.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the margin by which Grimes outraised McConnell.

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