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GOP Loaded With Self-Funding Candidates

Some of the top Republican House candidates in the country have self-funded large portions of their campaign coffers, a plus for a party aiming to win back Congress this year.

One-third of the 39 candidates that have reached the second tier of the National Republican Congressional Committee's three-step campaign organization program have given or loaned their campaigns significant amounts of money, recent Federal Election Commission filings show.

If Democrats hold on to their three remaining vacant seats in special elections this year, the GOP will need to pick up 40 seats to win back the House. Even with the national political landscape favoring them, GOP challengers need cash to keep up with incumbents that have been raising money for more than a year.

The NRCC had just $6 million in the bank at the end of February, so candidates able to raise vast amounts of money -- including from their own personal bank accounts -- are attractive. The committee's Democratic counterpart has more than three times as much on hand.

The candidate who's loaned his campaign the most so far is Tom Ganley, who's challenging second-term Rep. Betty Sutton in Ohio's 13th District. Despite raising just $16,000, Ganley has shelled out $2 million of his own money and has nearly 10 times as much cash on hand as the incumbent.

Another top self-funder is Randy Altschuler, who's loaned his campaign more than half of the $2 million he's brought in. He's running against fourth-term Rep. Tim Bishop in New York's 1st District on Long Island.

The other 11 Republicans who've reached the NRCC's "Contender" status and are partially self-funding their campaigns include (candidate, district, amount loaned and/or contributed to campaign):

• Scott Rigell, VA-2, $599,000
• Bill Flores, TX-17, $493,000
• Nan Hayworth, NY-19, $400,000
• Brian Rooney, MI-7, $240,000
• David McKinley, WV-1, $200,000
• Tom Reed, NY-29, $135,000
• Jim Renacci, OH-16, $122,000
• Frank Guinta, NH-1, $120,000
• Rick Berg, ND-AL, $110,000
• Keith Fimian, VA-11, $105,000
• Larry Bucshon, IN-8, $65,000

None of the 10 Republican challengers who've reached the top "Young Gun" status have given more than $25,000 to their campaigns. But all have raised enough to be on solid financial ground anyway.

Several of the more than 60 Republicans who've just entered the program are self-funders as well, including at least two candidates in each of these districts: New York-23 (which a Democrat won in a special election last year), Pennsylvania-3 (which a Democrat won in 2008) and California-11 (which a Democrat first won in 2006).

Both parties selected candidates who could self-fund for last year's special election in New York's 20th District. Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco both loaned their campaigns at least $200,000 for the three month-long campaign, with Murphy finishing on top by 726 votes.

The strategy is being utilized again in next month's special election in Pennsylvania's 12th District, where GOP nominee Tim Burns has loaned his campaign $225,000.