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Some House Challengers Outraising Incumbents Some House Challengers Outraising Incumbents

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Legacy Content / POLITICS

Some House Challengers Outraising Incumbents

Five Democratic Hopefuls Posted Impressive Numbers In 2009, But It May Not Matter In November

April 9, 2010

The Center for Responsive Politics has highlighted six districts where challengers outraised incumbents in 2009, but a closer look indicates the incumbents still have the upper hand.

In Maryland's 6th District, Republican incumbent Rep. Roscoe Bartlett raised $88,736, while Democratic challenger Casey Clark raised $145,328. Yet the significance of this disparity has to be weighed against the solidly Republican nature of the district.

"Bartlett is in such a safe district he doesn't have to raise money," said David Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Report.


And despite the 2009 numbers, Bartlett still has $353,891 on hand, while Clark has $74,993.

In California's 3rd District, 8-term Rep. Dan Lungren (R) raised $732,869, just shy of his Democratic challenger, Ami Bera, who raised $871,051. Bera, a well-connected physician, has been able to raise money in the medical industry, but Wasserman views these numbers as somewhat misleading as well, given Lungren's demonstrated ability to survive tough challenges -- as he did in the much more hostile climates of 2006 and 2008.

The same dynamic may prevail in Washington's 8th District, where Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene outraised Rep. Dave Reichert (R) $1,047,871 to $985,663 but will still face an uphill battle. In previous cycles, Reichert was criticized for being "Bush's lackey" but won re-election anyway. Bush's absence this cycle could be bad news for DelBene.

The only Republican challenger on CPR's list is Randy Altschuler in New York's 1st District. He raised $1,047,549 over Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop's $949,295.

"We see challengers outraise incumbents every year," said Wasserman. "I don't think it's meaningful if it doesn't say anything about the climate. Six races are not enough to show a groundswell." And with a national environment favoring Republicans, five Democratic challengers bringing in more than their Republican incumbents won't be enough to turn the tide.

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