Republican Congressional candidates lag Democratic incumbents in fund-raising

WASHINGTON-Many of Connecticut’s Republican congressional candidates will have relatively thin pocketbooks heading into the Aug. 10 primary, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

And even as Democrats nationally are wringing their hands over a toxic election climate and struggling to keep up with their GOP counterparts, Connecticut’s Democratic incumbents don’t seem to be feeling that pain, raising tidy sums of campaign cash in preparation for November.

Take, for example, Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, who in 2008 squeaked to victory with 51 percent of the vote against ex-Rep. Chris Shays. Both of them raised nearly $4 million for that hotly-contested showdown.

This time around, Himes has raised nearly $3 million so far, significantly outpacing his GOP opponents, according to 2nd quarter reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. State Sen. Dan Debicella , R-Shelton, has raised about $725,000 so far this election. At the end of June, Himes reported having $1.89 million in the bank for November, more than three times the $504,000 cash-on-hand listed by Debicella.

Two other Republican candidates in the 4th District contest, Rob Merkle of Norwalk and Rick Torres of Bridgeport, have raised $68,000 and $26,000 respectively. Both had about $10,000 in the bank at the end of June.

In the 5th District contest, three Republicans are vying to oust Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy. State Sen. Sam Caligiuri of Waterbury, the party-endorsed candidate, has raised about $550,000 so far, the new reports show. One of his opponents, Justin Bernier of Plainville, formerly an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserves, has collected just over $450,000 in campaign cash. And businessman Mark Greenberg raised nearly $1 million, although $400,000 of that is a loan from the candidate.

Murphy, who faces no Democratic primary opponent, has banked more than $2 million so far this cycle. And while his three GOP opponents each ended June with approximately $200,000 cash-on-hand, Murphy had nearly $1.5 million.

In the 2nd District contest, Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Courtney has raised more than $1.3 million so far this cycle, while his three GOP opponents have all raised less than $50,000. Courtney ended June with $1.46 million cash on hand. Former TV news anchor Janet Peckinpaugh, Courtney’s closest competitor, at least by that particular financial gauge, had less than $20,000.

Both Reps. John Larson, of the 1st District, and Rosa DeLauro, of the 3rd, have also raised loads of cash. DeLauro has collected nearly $900,000 so far this cycle, while Larson raised more than $1.8 million. DeLauro’s GOP opponent, Jerry Labriola, has raised about $100,000 so far this election, and he had about $53,000 in the bank at the end of June. Mark Zydanowicz, a GOP candidate for the 1st District contest, raised about $16,000 so far, and finished June with $11,350 cash on hand.

Ann Brickley, the GOP-endorsed candidate to take on Larson, reported raising $73,000 last quarter and ended June with $55,000 in the bank, compared to $900,000 for Larson.

“As a challenger it’s certainly more difficult to raise money,” said Brickley. “You feel like you’re walking around with a tin cup in your hand.” She said she’s working hard to “ramp up” her fundraising in the coming weeks, but “whether or not it’s enough is another story.”

congressional fund raising 7-20-10