- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2018

Democratic House candidates in the country’s heartland are raking in the cash, outpacing Republicans in fundraising in many key races and putting the party on solid ground to reclaim the chamber in this year’s congressional elections.

Fueled by anti-Trump grass-roots energy and a crop of good candidates, Democrats outperformed their Republican counterparts in Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas races during the all-important April to June fundraising period.

It’s the mirror image of 2010, when Republicans led the money battle against Democratic incumbents in 44 races at this point, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and went on to win 40 seats, flipping control of the House.

“At this point in time in 2018, the numbers indicate, I think, that there are as many as 55 to 57 Democratic candidates that outraised Republicans,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan told The Washington Times. “That shows an advantage not just with fundraising, but also with the grass-roots operations they are running.”

Democrats need to flip control of 23 seats to win back the House.

Republicans offer several caveats to the DCCC’s numbers. Even though they trailed in the past quarter’s numbers, they said, many of those candidates still have more cash in the bank thanks to years of fundraising.

Indeed, some of the Democrats posted spectacular fundraising numbers but burned through the money in order to win party primaries. Now they’re back trying to replenish their accounts.

“Democrats in moderate, competitive districts have spent the majority of their money highlighting their progressive bona fides,” said Jesse Hunt, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Meanwhile, Republicans have continued to pad their campaign coffers and are well-positioned to execute effective campaigns this fall.”

In Kentucky, Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican, pulled in $812,000 last quarter, less than the $1.2 million collected by his Democratic opponent, Amy McGrath. But Mr. Barr listed $2.7 million in cash on hand as of June 30, compared with $733,000 for Ms. McGrath. The Democrat spent heavily to score an upset victory in her May primary.

Democratic challengers also raised more money last quarter in races against Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Michael Bost of Illinois, and David Young and Rod Blum of Iowa. But the Republicans still had more money in their accounts for each of those races.

Things were bleaker for Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of California, Jason Lewis of Minnesota, Mike Bishop of Michigan and Leonard Lance of New Jersey. These Republican incumbents lost the money chase in June and finished with less money in the bank than their rivals.

Democratic candidates’ prowess will be offset somewhat by the Republican Party’s fundraising at the national level.

The Republican National Committee has raised more than $200 million this election cycle and had $50.7 million available as of June 30, compared with $9 million in cash on hand for the Democratic National Committee.

House Republicans’ political arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, raised $7.7 million in June, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $15.3 million. The DCCC had $68 million in cash on hand, compared with $64 million for the NRCC.

President Trump has thrown cold water on the idea of a blue wave this year and told backers he envisions a red wave. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, also has said he is increasingly confident that Republicans will retain the House.

But analysts say Democrats are putting pieces into place to win control.

“The way I look at this year is, there is what appears to be a Democratic tidal wave up against a Republican sea wall,” said Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report.

“Today the Democratic tidal wave looks bigger than the Republican House sea wall, but we have over three months to go,” he said. “We see Democrats on track to most likely score a net gain of between 20 and 35. If it is 22 or fewer, Republicans hang on; if 23 or more, they lose.”

When voters are asked which party they would support if the election were held today, the Democratic edge has hovered around 7 percent.

The Democratic fundraising advantage extends deep into red states such as Texas.

Republican Rep. John Abney Culberson trailed Democrat Lizzie Fletcher in fundraising over the past three months in the 7th Congressional District, while Democratic challenger Colin Allred outpaced Rep. Pete Sessions in the 32nd Congressional District.

“In a nutshell, within Texas, for the first time this decade, Houston and Dallas Democrats have a congressional candidate challenging a Republican to whom they can donate without the sensation that they are flushing their money down the toilet,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “Furthermore, donating to Fletcher, Allred and other Democratic candidates provides Americans who are enraged, disgusted and/or dismayed by President Trump with a concrete way to express their rage, disgust and dismay.”

Mr. Jones said it is a stark change from the three previous election cycles, when only one U.S. House seat in the western tip of the state was in play.

“In the 24 other GOP held seats, the Democratic Party did not field competitive candidates and was generally forced to rely on whoever was willing to throw their hat in the ring and file for what was certain to be a futile effort to flip a red seat,” Mr. Jones said. “The difference between the three 2012-16 election cycles and 2018 is night and day when it comes to Democratic challengers in GOP-held seats.”

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