by Grace Burton and Gabrielle Thomas
First quarter financial statements were due in April and they have been very telling about the future plans for members of Congress.
What are Quarterly Financial Statements?
All people running for Congressional Offices must regularly disclose the amount of money they both raise and spend – including any money spent during a campaigns exploratory period (the period before they officially file for candidacy).
Why are Quarterly Financial Statements Important?
Campaigning may seem early or unimportant at this stage with the next election a year and a half away, but first quarter reports set the stage for the next 18 months or so of campaigning. These reports provide key insights into where the public stands, what candidates are anticipating a tough race, what members of Congress may not be running for reelection, and what members of the House may be looking to move across the street to the Senate in 2022.
With a narrow majority in the House and Senate, and a historical precedent for a party flip at the midway point of a President’s term in office, incumbents and challengers alike are gearing up for a fiercely competitive campaign season. California Rep. Rohit “Ro” Khanna (D-CA, 17) had a record breaking first quarter, raking in $1.5 million, but said his plan is to, “focus will be in helping progressives across the country and particularly in house races,” explaining, “I do think we’re going to have a battle for the House, given the redistricting and given just the historical nature of having an incumbent president of your own party. And so I’m going to be heavily focused on that.”
Fundraising in the House
After a loss of 12 seats in the House, the campaign arm of the Democratic party posted its best first quarter fundraising total for a midterm election to date, raking in $34.1 million. The Democrats narrowly outraised their Republican counterparts, who raised $33.7 million in its first quarter. Remarkably high numbers on both sides denote the intense campaigning that is likely to come, as Republicans try to flip the five seats needed to gain control of the House, and Democrats cling to their slim majority.
Following the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol, several corporate PAC’s announced they would not continue funding to members of the Republican party who voted to overturn the election, claiming that this enabled the insurrection. While the money flow did slow a bit, it did not stop completely. Corporations like Pfizer made only one donation to a Republican candidate who attempted to overturn the election results, and it was later rescinded with the company stating it was made in error. The Koch Industries PAC, KOCHPAC – a historically red-leaning organization, donated to 43 candidates, five of which were Democrats, and the Republican recipients were disproportionately GOP members who voted to certify the election.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, the House voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the violence – this motion passed with the support of 10 Republicans who came from a mix of safe and swing seats, but none saw a drastic impact on fundraising. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL, 16) who was outspoken in his position to vote to impeach Trump raised $1.1 million this quarter and Rep. Elizabeth Cheney (R-WY, At Large) broke her single quarter fundraising record, pulling in an impressive $1.5 million. Even Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC, 7), an unexpected supporter of the impeachment, raised $400,000, topping all his average quarter earnings in the last cycle. Staunch Trump supporters have had no trouble in the fundraising sector either. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA, 14), who has become well known for her fervent support of the Trump administration, has already raised more than she did in her entire 2020 campaign, pulling in $3.2 million in the first quarter.
Fundraising in the Senate
Senate candidates across the map are gearing up for a competitive campaign season. With 34 seats up for grabs, 14 Democrat and 20 Republican, and a 50/50 split in the senate, candidates are building war chests.
Open races in swing states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio show early financial advantages for some candidates. In Pennsylvania, the competition to take over retiring Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) seat is well underway. Democratic candidate John Fetterman has already raised $4 million since announcing his campaign in early February, mirroring Sen. Mark Kelly’s (D-AZ) impressive fundraising in the 2020 election cycle. Kelly went on to break spending records and establish himself as one of the top Senate fundraisers for 2020. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA, 2) who was rumored to be considering joining the Pennsylvania senate race formally announced he would not run for Toomey’s seat the day after Fetterman released his fundraising report. Fetterman’s Republican counterpart Jeff Bartos also pulled in an impressive $1.1 million, although $550,000 of this was a personal loan the candidate made to the campaign.
In North Carolina, Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-NC, 37) leads the Democratic field with $1.3 million raised this quarter. Republican candidate Mark Walker raised only $209,000 this quarter, but with Former Gov. Pat McCrory announcing his candidacy, the Republican race is bound to heat up.
In Wisconsin, Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson has yet to announce is he will be seeking a third term. His fundraising seems to suggest the Senator will not be running, raising only $545,000, Johnson raised the least of all potentially vulnerable Senators this quarter. Three Democrats have already launched campaigns to challenge Johnson, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry raised $1.1 million in the first quarter – double that of the incumbent Senator. Many Republicans are urging Johnson to run again and begin campaigning in full force, but this would go against his earlier pledge to only serve two terms. Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI, 8) is rumored to be considering a move to the Senate if Johnson retires, he raked in $830,000 this quarter.
In Ohio, Republican Sen. Rob Portman is retiring, and two members of the House are gearing up to make the move for his seat. Republican Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH, 15) raised $1.4 million so far this cycle, with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH, 13) trailing closely behind at $1.2 million raised this quarter.
A few other Representatives considering throwing their hat in the ring for a Senate seat include Missouri Republican Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO, 2), who is vying for the open Missouri senate seat, Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ, 5), who would take on Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, and Georgia Republican Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA, 3), who would run against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock. Wagner led the group with $593,000 raised this quarter, while Biggs and Ferguson fell far behind their potential competition. Biggs raised $243,00 in comparison to the $4.4 million raised by Kelly, and Ferguson raised $330,000 compared to the $4.6 million Warnock has raised since winning his Jan. 5 special election.