Democrats hold cash advantage in closest congressional races

The Democratic incumbents in Connecticut’s two closest Congressional battles, Jim Himes and Chris Murphy, both entered the election season’s final month with a financial advantage over their GOP challengers, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Himes, a former Greenwich Democratic town chairman who captured his first term representing the 4th District two years ago, entered the final month with more cash on hand despite raising less money over the prior quarter than his GOP challenger did.

Himes, who raised $575,233 in the third quarter of the calendar year, had $669,731 on hand entering October. State Sen. Dan Debicella of Shelton raked in $802,326 from July through September and had $447,488 on hand as of his last campaign filing.

“Dan has the momentum, money and right message to win on November 2,” said Debicella campaign spokeswoman Ashley Maagero. “Dan’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, smaller government and reducing taxes for middle class families and small businesses is clearly resonating with voters and translating into dollars from residents of the district.

“Debicella’s numbers just show he was at fundraisers in August rather than talking to voters,” Himes campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Kerr said. “When you compare total resources and grassroots support, it’s clear Himes has the advantage. Jim’s fundraising shows a consistent and growing base of support. Debicella’s numbers just show that Republican donors weren’t really impressed with him and fell into line after the primary when they realized he was their only possible option.”

Kerr also said the congressman’s cash advantage is greater than the new campaign filings show. That’s because the Himes campaign bought most of its TV and radio ad time-the most expensive element of any campaign-back in August, she said, while Debicella appears to be purchasing his ads on a week-to-week basis.

Still, Debicella’s latest election report reflects a larger trend in which Republican candidates are eclipsing their Democratic opponents in the fundraising race. Most of Debicella’s financial support has come from Connecticut donors, but he’s gotten about $90,000 in donations from outside the state in the last three months.

For example, he got a $5,000 donation from the Freedom Project, a political action committee chaired by House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. PACs representing the insurance industry and small businesses also gave to his campaign.

Himes got about half his contributions from outside Connecticut in the 3rd quarter, raising about $290,000 of his total from donors in California, New York, West Virginia, and elsewhere. He got about $116,000 from Washington-based donors. Among Himes’ D.C. donations, for example, was $7,000 from the Democratic National Campaign Committee, $5,000 from the Service Employees union, and $2,500 from a financial industry PAC.

Himes led Debicella by 2 points in another CT Capitol Report poll released earlier this month, but that difference was well within the 4.4 percent margin of error.

Murphy, who has represented the 5th District since 2007, had $626,942 on hand entering October, more than two-and-a-half times the campaign war chest of state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, R-Waterbury, who had $240,462 on hand.

Over the last quarter, Murphy raised $526,831, while Caligiuri took in $391,144.

Caligiuri’s campaign noted in a written statement that while Murphy leads in overall fundraising, the Waterbury Republican raised about $13,000 more from individuals over the past three month, while Murphy enjoyed a $157,000-edge in funding from political action committees.

“Murphy claimed that he had support from ‘the people’ while I have support from big money, but this report shows that the exact opposite is true,” Caligiuri said. “I raised more money from individuals than Murphy, while his campaign coffers continue to swell with special interest money.”

The Murphy campaign could not be reached for comment Monday.

As with the 4th District race, challenger Caligiuri got most of his support from within Connecticut, while about 45 percent of Murphy’s financiial support in the 3rd quarter came from out-of-state.

A CT Capitol Report poll released earlier this month showed Caligiuri leading Murphy by 5.4 percentage points, though the survey’s margin of error was 4.4 points.