BIG BUCKS IN CD2
When Republican GOP congressional candidate Martha McSally spoke in front of the Pima County Republican Club last week, she was solidly on message. She hammered incumbent Democratic Congressman Ron Barber for his support of Obamacare and for being "asleep at the switch" when it came to protecting the A-10 fighter jet and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
McSally had answers prepared for just about any question from the audience and carefully dodged controversial queries as to whether she would support impeaching President Barack Obama or withdrawing from the United Nations.
But there was one question, from longtime Republican activist Linda Barber, that stumped McSally: "Can you tell us who's on your campaign team or staff? Who's your chairman and so forth?"
McSally struggled to remember who was helping her win office in Southern Arizona before calling for a lifeline from Kristen Douglas, her deputy campaign manager and spokeswoman.
"OK, so, well, co-chair of my finance committee is Jim Click, and there's another—several other individuals in town, um, Jim Weaver is one of them," McSally said. "Kristen, help me out here. ... I'm drawing a blank so far."
Douglas offered another name: real-estate broker Bill Arnold.
"Yeah, Bill Arnold," McSally said. "There are some other people in the homebuilding industry that are helping us in that regard. I don't know. (Former) Sen. (Jon) Kyl is continuing to mentor me, as he has in the past. That's a wonderful example. My deputy campaign manager here is Kristen Douglas. She's our official staff here. And we have a couple of other positions that are being filled as we kind of ramp up and get into the hot part of the season. I currently have a finance assistant on staff as well and we're going to be bringing some more people on, specifically for our ground game and our grassroots support that we're going to be moving out in the next few weeks."
McSally might not be able to remember the names of local supporters who are writing checks or helping her understand Southern Arizona issues, but she's certainly raising plenty of money.
Her latest campaign finance report, filed last week with the FEC, showed that she had her best fundraising quarter yet. She pulled in $441,105 and spent just $141,937. When you add in what she had when the quarter began, she ended up with $847,142 in the bank as of March 31.
McSally's total was boosted in a big way by a separate political committee, Winning Women, which provided her with roughly $110,000, or about one-fourth of her quarterly haul.
Winning Women had a massive fundraising at the end of March that brought in roughly $360,000 from 78 contributors. The proceeds from the fundraiser were split between three Republican candidates: McSally, Virginia congressional candidate Barbara Comstock and New York congressional candidate Elise M. Stefanik.
But Barber has also picked up the fundraising pace and had the quarter of his political career. He collected nearly $416,000 and spent about $150,000, leaving him with more than $1.2 million in the bank.
"The reason our campaign has more cash on hand than Martha McSally's is that Southern Arizonans support Ron Barber," said Barber spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn.
But Team McSally's Douglas said via email that the Barber's record numbers showed that the incumbent was "in big trouble. Thanks to strong local support and growing momentum, Martha McSally is consistently outraising Barber even as Washington lobbyists and special interests line his campaign coffers. Why? Because Southern Arizonans are tired of Barber throwing our community under the bus, whether it's on the fight to save the A-10 or backing Nancy Pelosi."
Team Barber responded by calling on McSally to return $5,000 she took from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's Prosperity Action Committee and $10,000 she took from the Koch Industries PAC, a political arm of Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who have funded a massive conservative political network.
"By taking their money, she's telling us loud and clear that she supports the Koch brothers' efforts to eliminate the minimum wage and privatize social security and Paul Ryan's plan to turn the Medicare guarantee into a voucher program and raise taxes on middle class families," said Nash-Hahn. "If she goes to Washington, she'll do exactly what the Koch brothers and Paul Ryan tell her to do."
Douglas said that McSally would not be returning contributions from the Koch brothers or Ryan.
"We have and will continue to raise the resources necessary to let his constituents know about his lousy record," Douglas said via email.
McSally does have three candidates who are challenging her for the GOP nomination, but all three had tiny fundraising quarters. Shelley Kais, a businesswoman who assisted McSally with a 2012 campaign, reported raising $6,168 and had $13,104 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, while Chuck Wooten—who was registered as "party not declared" rather than a Republican as of last week—had raised just under $7,000 and had just $1,666 on hand.
McSally brushed off the likelihood that either Kais or Wooten would pose a threat to her in the primary.
"One of my other opponents, as recently as last quarter ... raised about $11,000, when you take out the family support that she had," McSally told the GOP club last week. "Barber has over a million dollars cash on hand. We need to be able to win this race. The other person—and I'm not mentioning their names because it will just raise their name ID—he's not even registered as a Republican. OK? So let's unite, let's move forward, and let's beat Ron Barber."
TIGHT WALLETS IN CD1
The fundraising story is a lot different in Congressional District 1, where three Republican candidates are struggling to raise the money they'll need to compete with Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick.
House Speaker Andy Tobin had a lousy quarter, bringing in just $126,000—a big drop from the $232,000 he'd raised in the previous quarter.
At the end of the reporting period, Tobin had about $213,000 in the bank.
Rancher/oilman/hotelier Gary Kiehne only raised about $66,000, although he supplemented that with a $100,000 loan to the committee. (All told, Kiehne has loaned the campaign a total of $200,000.) While money spends the same whether you get it from contributors or lend it to yourself, it's a sign of strength when you don't have to dip into your own piggybank. On the other hand, if you have enough in your piggybank to keep pouring money into your campaign, you can overwhelm opponents who are struggling to persuade donors to contribute.
At any rate, when you figure in Kiehne's total contributions, loans and expenses, he had about $275,000 left in the bank at the end of the reporting period, which puts him ahead of Tobin.
And then there's state Rep. Adam Kwasman, whose fundraising totals were just embarrassing. Kwasman, who filed his report late, raised just $28,170. That's a serious drop from the last quarter of 2013, when he raised just over $100,000.
When he was discussing that quarter at the end of January, Kwasman told The Skinny that his "funders are just starting to come on board and we're really starting to grow. We are really building momentum for our campaign."
Evidently, those funders had some serious second thoughts.
As of March 31, Kwasman had less than $65,000 in the bank.
Whoever comes out of the primary will face a well-funded Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick raised nearly $325,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31 and had more than $1 million on hand.
"Ann's achievements since returning to office have made a difference in the lives of Arizonans," said Team Kirkpatrick campaign manager Nettie Silleck. "While her opponents campaign on far-right rhetoric and ideology, Ann offers common-sense solutions. Her campaign's strong support is proof that putting constituents first is what matters most to voters."