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« Boxer Rakes It In For Tough Re-election | Blog Home Page | Biden, Pelosi Fundraise Today In Philly »

Strong Quarter For Open Seat Republicans, Dem Incumbents

By Kyle Trygstad

Republicans are flying high after what the party is calling a banner fundraising quarter, as financial reports due yesterday showed GOP candidates leading in the most competitive open seat races. The strong second-quarter showing is the latest evidence of what most political observers believe will be a good election year for Republicans.

"With only 110 days until Election Day, Republicans are running strong nationwide," Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote yesterday in a memo to reporters, "and we're confident that our candidates will have the resources that they need in order to communicate their message and wage very competitive races this November."

In the open Democrat-held seats of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, the Republican candidates all outraised their Democratic opponents. In the Keystone State, Pat Toomey took in $3.1 million during the second quarter, which featured a high-profile and expensive Democratic primary between nominee Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter. Sestak, though, pulled in nearly $2 million and still has about that much on hand.

Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, favored to win Vice President Biden's former seat, outraised Democrat Chris Coons and now has more than twice as much money on hand. In the race for President Obama's Illinois seat, Rep. Mark Kirk brought in $2.3 million despite a brutal run in the press, and raised well more than Democrat Alexi Giannoulias' $900,000 take.

In Indiana, former Sen. Dan Coats ($1.5 million) raised more than twice as much as Rep. Brad Ellsworth ($600,000), though Ellsworth still holds a lead in cash-on-hand. And thanks to another $7.5 million of her own money, Linda McMahon, the leading Republican in Connecticut, begins the third quarter with a $3.2 million to $2.1 million cash advantage over Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who raised $1.6 million.

Republicans also led the fundraising race in most of their own open seat states, including Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio. In Kentucky, though, Republican Rand Paul raised just $1.1 million. That was slightly more than Democrat Jack Conway, but Conway loaned his campaign $400,000, giving him an edge in overall receipts.

Marco Rubio had another impressive fundraising quarter, bringing in $4.5 million to set a new state record. However, Gov. Charlie Crist, now running as an independent, had a relatively impressive $1.8 million haul despite leaving the GOP a month into the fundraising quarter, and he now has $8.2 million left in the bank. Rubio has $4.4 million on hand after spending $4 million over the last three months, and Democrat Kendrick Meek has $4 million after raising $1 million in the second quarter.

Democrats, meanwhile, are hanging their hats on the fundraising quarters of their most vulnerable incumbents: Harry Reid (Nev.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).

While polling shows all six Democrats in competitive re-election races, they all pulled off healthy fundraising quarters and all but one led their Republican opponent. Reid's challenger, Sharron Angle, topped Reid by a $200,000 margin, though the Senate majority leader still holds a commanding cash-on-hand advantage ($9 million to $1.8 million).

In Arkansas, Rep. John Boozman had a subpar fundraising quarter despite his sizeable lead in the polls and Lincoln's competitive and expensive primary campaign. The embattled Lincoln now has four times as much money as Boozman.

In California, Boxer keeps stockpiling cash while Fiorina continues to recover financially from the GOP primary. After raising $4.6 million, Boxer has more than $11 million in the bank, while Fiorina, who self-funded a large portion of her primary campaign, has less than $1 million.

Republicans will need to overcome these Democratic cash advantages to win back the Senate, as the party must turn several of these seats red to take the majority.