- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Several challengers are outpacing congressional incumbents in the campaign money chase ahead of November’s midterm elections, suggesting some upsets may be in the making, according to new campaign finance reports filed this week.

In the House, Democratic challengers are outraising Republican incumbents in several states, while Republicans are racking up donations in the party’s bid to take back the Senate majority.

Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff has an early fundraising lead against Republican incumbent Mike Coffman in Colorado’s 6th District. Mr. Romanoff brought in $601,720 in the first quarter and has $2.09 million cash on hand. Mr. Coffman has raised $593,801 so far in the election cycle and has $1.8 million cash on hand.

While Republican Steve Southerland has raised and spent more this quarter than Democratic challenger Gwen Graham in Florida’s 2nd District, she has more cash in the bank, claiming $1.4 million compared to Mr. Southerland’s $1.18 million.

One of the most surprising results occurred in Kentucky, where Democratic Senate challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes outraised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for a second time. Ms. Grimes brought in $2.7 million in donations and finished the quarter with almost $5 million on hand. While Mr. McConnell, the GOP leader in the Senate, only raised $2.4 million, he holds twice as much cash on hand with $10 million in his coffers.

GOP Senate challengers Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Dan Sullivan in Alaska have both taken in more than the Democratic incumbents they will face in November. In Arkansas, Mr. Cotton raised $1.35 million while Sen. Mark Pryor trailed behind with $1.22 million; in Alaska, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich brought in $1 million but was out-raised by Mr. Sullivan.

By contrast, some incumbents have reported raising record-breaking amounts to fend off challengers.

Republican Ed Gillespie, the party’s former chairman, is giving Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner a run for his money. While Mr. Warner raised $2.7 million, Mr. Gillespie came in at a close second with $2.2 million.

Republican Thad Cochran brought in five times his 2013 fourth-quarter numbers, raising $1.7 million in the race to keep his Senate seat in Mississippi. Mr. Cochran faces a serious primary fight from a tea party-backed challenger.

The Democrats are pulling ahead in two open races. In Iowa’s 3rd District, Democrat Staci Appel raised, spent and ended with more cash-on-hand than Republican rivals David Young and Robert Cramer. While Republican Steve Lonegan raised more in New Jersey’s 3rd District in the most recent quarter, Democratic challenger Aimee Belgard boasts more cash on hand so far in the 2014 cycle.

House Speaker John Boehner has raised $4.5 million so far this cycle, but donated almost $2 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Republican Governors Association raised an impressive $22 million under the chairmanship of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, while the Democratic Governor’s association raised half that amount, reporting receipts of $11.7 million.

And Democratic candidate Clay Aiken’s “American Idol” fame hasn’t helped him raise a significant amount for his uphill battle in North Carolina’s 2nd District — he only raised $233,000 and finished the first quarter with just $125,000 on hand. Even if he survives the Democratic primary, Mr. Aiken would be a distinct underdog to GOP incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers in the conservative-leaning district.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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