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July 12, 2006

Cantwell, McGavick report fund raising totals

Posted by David Postman at 8:36 AM

Sen. Maria Cantwell is beginning the summer campaign season with more than six times as much money in the bank as challenger Mike McGavick. An incumbent is expected to raise more money than a challenger. But the gap will raise the question again about how much of his own money the wealthy McGavick is willing to spend on his campaign.

The campaigns don't have to file reports with the FEC until Saturday, but both have issued press releases touting 2nd quarter totals, though lacking detail of who gave how much.

Cantwell raised about $2 million for the quarter, for a total in the campaign so far of $11 million, and has $6.4 million cash on hand. McGavick raised about $1.7 million in the quarter, for a total in the campaign of more than $4.4 million, and has more than $1 million cash on hand.

Where did the money come from? We'll have to wait to see the reports to know for sure. McGavick's campaign has made much of the fact that Cantwell gets most of her money from out of state. According to OpenSecrets.org at the end of the first quarter Cantwell had received 58 percent of her money from out of state and McGavick had gotten 17 percent.

That percentage is already shifting for McGavick. His press release this week said he has collected nearly 70 percent of his money from Washington residents. Cantwell chooses to count the number of contributions from in and out of state, not the amount of money raised, and says it's about a 50-50 split.

I was about to dash off a line that says it's not unusual for incumbents to get a majority of their money from outside their home states. That's true. But at looking through OpenSecrets at competitive Senate races across the country — and again these numbers are only for the first quarter of the year — I found only two candidates reporting a larger share of their money from out of state. Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., has collected 63 percent of his money from outside of Tennessee in his race for the seat of retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and Sen. Conrad Burns, the Montana Republican engulfed in the Jack Abramoff scandal has gotten 79 percent of his money from elsewhere.

Some local numbers should serve as a note of caution to Republicans about making too big a deal out of this. In the 2nd District, Republican Doug Roulstone's first quarter numbers show he collected 33 percent from out of state, compared to incumbent Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen's 18 percent.

On another money matter, the state Republican Party pointed out something I missed the other day. Cantwell's first TV ad of the campaign was not paid for by her campaign, but by the state Democratic Party. What difference does it make? Cantwell touts a no-PAC pledge. But that doesn't cover money raised by the party, as I mentioned a few weeks back. I don't doubt that Cantwell's self-imposed ban makes it tougher to raise money for her campaign. But this is another example of how PACs and the special interests behind them will be a part of the campaign to re-elect Cantwell, even if the money doesn't go into her campaign's bank account.

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