- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

When the midterm election campaigns moved into the homestretch three weeks ago the Democratic challengers to incumbent Republican senators were much better financed than Democratic challengers in any previous campaign, as revealed in data released late last week by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The differences were striking.

From Jan. 1, 2005, through Oct. 18, 2006, more than $79 million had been raised by 15 Democratic challengers. That was more than five times the $15.6 million raised by 11 Democratic challengers over a comparable period before the 2004 election and nearly three times the $26.8 million raised by 14 Democratic challengers in 2002.

The figures include the $14 million raised by Connecticut’s Ned Lamont, whom the FEC classifies as a Democratic challenger opposing Joe Lieberman, the Democratic incumbent running as an independent. Nevertheless, at mid-October in 2004, no Democratic challenger had raised as much as $5 million. By comparison, three weeks before yesterday’s elections, six Democratic challengers (excluding Mr. Lamont) had raised more than $5 million: Bob Casey in Pennsylvania ($16.4 million), Jim Pederson in Arizona ($12.4 million), Claire McCaskill in Missouri ($9.1 million), Sherrod Brown in Ohio ($7.7 million), James Webb in Virginia ($6.1 million) and Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island ($5.4 million), who actually outraised his incumbent Republican opponent, Lincoln Chafee ($3.8 million, plus $900,000 raised during the 2001-2004 period).

Equally striking, 38 of the top 50 fund-raising challengers in House races were Democrats. Among the 13 House challengers who had raised at least $2 million, 11 were Democrats. The two Republican challengers in the $2 million-plus category (David McSweeney and Van Taylor) faced Democratic incumbents (Melissa Bean and Chet Edwards). On the other hand, 10 of the 11 Democratic challengers who raised more than $2 million faced Republican incumbents whose districts were rated as toss-ups by Charlie Cook, the highly regarded handicapper of congressional races. Sixteen of the 19 Democratic challengers who had raised between $1.25 million and $2 million battled Republican incumbents representing toss-up districts. Altogether, Democratic challengers had raised $96.8 million, which was nearly three times the $32.7 million raised by Republican challengers. Even accounting for the higher number of Democratic challengers, their average fund-raising total ($436,000) was nearly double the average ($220,000) of Republican challengers.

Twelve of the top 20 fund-raisers among candidates seeking open seats were Democrats. Each of the 20 had raised at least $1.6 million. Five of the 12 Democrats, having raised an average of $2.4 million, contested toss-up seats held by retiring Republicans. Five other Democratic open-seat seekers, having raised an average of $2 million, sought seats held by retiring Republicans in races rated “[lean]ing Democratic” by Mr. Cook.

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