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Vulnerable Democrats On Strong Financial Footing

Vulnerable Democrats On Strong Financial Footing

By Kyle Trygstad - April 16, 2010

As Americans rushed to mail their federal tax returns by midnight last night, first quarter fundraising reports were also due. The preliminary returns show that the freshman House Democrats widely considered the most vulnerable this year are so far on rather solid political footing, at least financially.

Freshmen were urged almost immediately following their election victories in November 2008 to begin raising money for what historically has been a difficult midterm cycle for the incumbent party after winning the White House.

These are not the only vulnerable Democratic seats, of course, as more than a dozen incumbents are not seeking re-election and several second-term Dems who helped take back Congress in 2006 are again in for challenging re-elections. There are also several more freshmen whose political fates could become increasingly perilous as the year continues on.

In separate columns this morning, political handicappers Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg predicted Republicans could win 30 seats, if not more. RCP's Sean Trende argued this week that if a perfect storm hits in November, Democratic lossess could escalate into the 70 to 80 seat range -- something not seen in 80 years.

Democrats are hopeful that aggressive fundraising efforts -- in conjuction with a recovering economy -- will help mitigate losses in November.

In Colorado’s 4th District, Rep. Betsy Markey raised twice as much as Republican Cory Gardner ($500k - $257k), and is currently sitting on $1.25 million in the bank. Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello raised an impressive $600k in the first quarter, leaving him with $1.4 million in the bank. That’s about $1 million more than his closest Republican opponent.

Rep. Alan Grayson has sure made a name for himself in his relatively short time in Congress. The wealthy attorney has also proved his fundraising chops after bringing in more than $800k for the second straight quarter and ending March with more than $1.5 million on hand. His leading opponent, Bill O’Donoghue, raised $305k leaving him with $309k.

Across Orlando in the 24th District, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas is one of more than 40 Democrats representing a district that voted for John McCain. After raising $263k in the first quarter, Kosmas also has a significant cash on hand advantage over her Republican opponents. The most well off Republican, Craig Miller, raised $141k and has $315k on hand.

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus raised $253k and has $902k on hand, while Republican Joe Heck raised nearly $150k and has a little more than $250k in the bank. In New Mexico’s 2nd District, former Republican Rep. Steve Pearce is trying to win back his old seat and ended the first quarter with more than $700k on hand. Rep. Harry Teague, who won the open seat in 2008 as Pearce ran for Senate, has $927k on hand after raising $130k.

Two grudge matches in Ohio are proving to be as competitive as expected. First District Rep. Steve Driehaus raised $300k, leaving him with $940k in his second straight race against former Rep. Steve Chabot. Driehaus is out-raising Chabot, but not by much -- Chabot took in $246k and has slightly more than $800k on hand.

Ohio’s 15th District features a rematch between Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy and Republican Steve Stivers. Kilroy’s fundraising numbers weren’t immediately available, but Stivers brought in a $350k haul leaving him with nearly $800k. Kilroy began 2010 with about $700k.

Maryland’s 1st District is another rematch to watch. Rep. Frank Kratovil brought in $247k, leaving him with a little more than $1 million. 2008 GOP nominee Andy Harris raised $312k and has more than $700k in the bank.

Virginia Rep. Glenn Nye's 2nd District opponent, Scott Rigell, brought in more than him in the first quarter by a $408k to $363k margin, though more than two-thirds of Rigell's total came out of his own pocket. Still, Nye has $1.1 million in the bank, nearly $500k more than Rigell.

Kyle Trygstad is a Washington correspondent for RealClearPolitics. Email him at: kyle@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @KyleTrygstad.

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