Campaign News
January 21, 2010

Ten Non-Incumbent House Candidates Topped $100K in First Quarter

By Greg Giroux, CQ Staff   ·  Congressional Quarterly


It's never too early to begin raising money for candidates who are planning or thinking about congressional bids in 2010. This is true of those who expect to challenge incumbents - who are almost invariably well-funded - or those seeking seats left open by departing House members, for which primary elections will be held months before the November 2010 general elections.

Underscoring this point, a handful of House candidates got off to fast starts in fundraising, according to a CQ Politics analysis of campaign finance reports recently filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). These reports reflected campaign treasury receipts and expenditures for the first three months of this "off" election year.

Profiled below are the 10 non-incumbent House candidates who reported the most campaign receipts in the first quarter of 2009, according to FEC figures. This study focuses only on those candidates who are already engaged in campaigns for the 2010 elections, and excludes those who have raised sizable amounts because they ran or are running this year in special elections for seats vacated by incumbent members.

Each candidate is identified by name, party and congressional district, with his or her first-quarter receipts shown parenthetically and rounded to the nearest thousand. Receipts may include personal contributions from the candidate.

  1. William Russell, Republican, Pennsylvania's 12th District ($403,000). Russell is challenging veteran Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha in a rematch of a 2008 campaign that Murtha won by 16 percentage points. Russell raises a lot of money in part because Murtha has become a Democrat who Republican activists love to hate, because of his past strong condemnations of President Bush's handling of the Iraq War and because of his formidable success, as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, at steering "earmarked" federal funds to his home district. But Russell also raises a lot of money via expensive direct mail solicitations. His campaign treasury's resulting high "burn rate" left Russell with little cash-on-hand ($57,000) as April began.

  2. Suzan DelBene, Democrat, Washington's 8th District ($315,000). DelBene, a technology executive, is gearing up to oppose three-term Republican Rep. Dave Reichert in a district that includes Bellevue and other Seattle suburbs west and south of that city. The $315,000 figure includes $209,000 of DelBene's own money, in the form of loans and contributions.

    Washington's 8th, typically a partisan swing district, went strongly for Barack Obama as the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee, favoring him by 15 percentage points over Republican John McCain . It is one of a relatively small number of Republican-held districts in which Democrats expect to be on offense in the 2010 midterm elections, following the huge gains in 2006 and 2008 that have produced a sizable House majority for the party.

  3. Jack McDonald, Democrat, Texas' 10th District ($312,000). McDonald, who also has a background as a technology executive, is waging a campaign against three-term Republican Rep. Michael McCaul that technically is still in the "exploratory" phase. But his first-quarter take makes it highly likely that he will make his bid official.

    McDonald's first-quarter report shows that he put in just $1,000 of his own money and raised everything else from individual donors - many of whom gave the $4,800 maximum amount allowed under federal law, of which half can be used for a primary election and half for the general election.

  4. Billy Long, Republican, Missouri's 7th District ($245,000). Long, a self-employed auctioneer, is seeking the open seat in a strongly Republican-leaning district in southwestern Missouri, which seven-term Republican Rep. Roy Blunt will be relinquishing to run in 2010 for the U.S. Senate. Long's receipts total includes $100,000 of his own money.

  5. Steve Chabot, Republican, Ohio's 1st District ($232,000). Chabot is the only comeback-seeking former incumbent in the fundraising Top 10. He was the congressman from the Cincinnati-based 1st from 1995 through 2008, when he lost to Democratic state Rep. Steve Driehaus. Chabot said shortly thereafter that he would attempt to reclaim the seat in 2010, when Driehaus is expected to seek re-election.

    House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, who represents Ohio's adjacent 8th District, was among the House Republicans who donated to Chabot's comeback campaign.

  6. Dick Kelsey, Republican, Kansas' 4th District ($136,000). Kelsey, a state senator, is vying to succeed eight-term Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a 2010 candidate for the U.S. Senate, in a south-central Kansas district dominated by Wichita. Nearly all of Kelsey's early receipts came in the form of loans that he made to his own campaign.

  7. Kevin Calvey, Republican, Oklahoma's 5th District ($127,000). Calvey, a former state representative, is running in the strongly Republican-leaning, Oklahoma City-based district that Republican Rep. Mary Fallin left open to run for governor. Calvey loaned his campaign $100,100 - most of his early receipts.

    Calvey has the endorsement of the Club for Growth PAC, a conservative organization that opposes taxes and advocates reduced government spending.

  8. Terri Sewell, Democrat, Alabama's 7th District ($124,000). Sewell, a Harvard-educated lawyer, is seeking the Birmingham-area seat that Democratic Rep. Artur Davis left open to run for governor. She raised much of her first-quarter take from lawyers, including some from Maynard, Cooper & Gale, the firm for which she practices.

  9. Tim Barker, Republican, Kansas' 1st District ($124,000). Barker is a candidate for the vast western and central Kansas district that Republican Jerry Moran left open to compete with Tiahrt for the 2010 Senate nomination. Barker put in $100,000 of his own money. He actually has brought in $154,000 overall for his campaign treasury because he began fundraising in 2008.

  10. Dennis Ross, Republican, Florida's 12th District ($101,000). Florida Republican leaders are promoting Ross, a lawyer and former state representative, in the central Florida district that Republican Rep. Adam H. Putnam is giving up to run in 2010 for state agriculture commissioner. Ross put in $25,000 of his own money.

    Ross' likely Democratic opponent is Lori Edwards, a former state representative who is the elections supervisor in Polk County.

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