- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - U.S. Sen. John Walsh raised $946,000 over the first three months of 2014 in his bid to keep the seat he was appointed to in February, Walsh campaign officials said Tuesday.

That is a 62 percent increase over the Democrat’s fundraising efforts for the last quarter of 2013, a surge of cash that help Walsh keep pace with Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, who is also seeking the seat, said Montana State University political scientist David Parker.

“That’s a big jump,” Parker said. “It begins with resources. People can’t hear your message if you don’t have the resources to get it out. Now people can hear his message.”

The boost is likely a reflection of Walsh’s new incumbency and having a good fundraising team, Parker said. Walsh campaign manager Aaron Murphy attributed it to a strong start to the abbreviated Senate term.

“In just a few short weeks as a U.S. Senator, John Walsh has tackled threats to civil liberties, he’s proposed responsible spending cuts, fought for jobs that rely on Montana’s clean air and water, and as the Senate’s only Iraq War veteran, he’s taken the lead on improving mental health care for combat veterans,” Murphy said.

Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh, his former lieutenant governor, to complete former Sen. Max Baucus’ term, which expires in January. Walsh was already running for the seat when Baucus resigned to become the U.S. ambassador to China.

Daines raised just over $1 million in the last three months of 2013. Campaign manager Brock Lowrence said the figures for the recently ended quarter were not yet available.

Walsh has raised about $1.5 million since he entered the race. He has nearly $700,000 cash on hand after spending $684,576 this quarter, his campaign said.

Walsh faces former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and political newcomer Dirk Adams in June’s Democratic primary. Neither has released fundraising figures for the quarter.

“It’s not much to brag about but it’s enough money to fund my campaign in my style,” Bohlinger said.

Adams said he was not ready to release his fundraising figures.

The Federal Election Commission’s reporting deadline for the first quarter is April 15.