Oct 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

17 House Democratic challengers raised more than $1 million in Q3

Illustration of a donkey holding a big hundred dollar bill in its mouth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

17 House Democratic challengers raised more than $1 million in the third quarter, including six who raked in more than $1.5 million, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: House Democrats still see a path to retaining the majority — and it involves going on offense. The strong individual fundraising totals will put GOP incumbents and open-seat nominees on notice that the campaign's final five weeks will be a tooth-and-nail scrap.

  • By comparison, 11 Republican challengers raised more than $1 million last quarter, six fewer than their Democratic counterparts.
  • Both parties are trying to ensure their candidates will have ample ammunition for the campaign's final weeks and put them in a position to win tight races.

Details: The six Democrats who have raised more than $1.5 million are:

  • Hillary Scholten (Mich.-3)
  • Josh Riley (N.Y.-19:)
  • Eric Sorensen (Ill.-17)
  • Gabe Vasquez (N.M.-2)
  • Yadira Caraveo (Colo.-8)
  • Christy Smith (Calif.-27)

The 11 Democratic nominees who raked in more than $1 million include:

  • Will Rollins (Calif.-41)
  • Jay Chen (Calif.-45)
  • Rudy Salas (Calif.-22)
  • Kermit Jones (Calif.-3)
  • Robert Zimmerman (N.Y.-3)
  • Brittany Pettersen (Colo.-7)
  • Nikki Budzinski (Ill.-13)
  • Liz Mathis (Iowa-2)
  • Tony Vargas (Neb.-2)
  • Wiley Nickel (N.C.-13)
  • Chris Deluzio (Pa.-17)

Between the lines: At the end of Federal Election Commission filing periods, campaigns typically look to leak their numbers to win a news cycle and show momentum for their candidates.

The big picture: The campaign committees for House Democrats and Republicans, as well as affiliated super PACs, are spending unprecedented amounts of money to win the lower chamber this cycle.

  • The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, recently telegraphed its plans to commit another $14 million, bringing its total spending to roughly $190 million.
  • House Majority PAC, which is affiliated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, booked $20 million in 23 media markets in August, with plans to spend more than $120 million.

What we're watching: When candidates achieve rough parity in advertising, races are determined by a mixture of candidate quality and the national environment.

  • "After you reach a certain amount of penetration with advertising money, you get diminished returns," former National Republican Campaign Committee chairman Tom Davis told Axios.
  • "These races have become parliamentary races, where people are voting the party, not the person," he said. "It’s about control of the legislature."

The bottom line: Both Republicans and Democrats acknowledge that history favors the party that doesn’t control the White House. This year, that's Republicans.

  • But Democrats point to their fundraising numbers as reason to hope that they can buck the trend in 2022.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Liz Mathis's name.

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