First campaign finance reports offer glimpse into Senate race

WASHINGTON–She loaned her campaign nearly $30,000 for a poll. He raked in more than $100,000 in PAC money. She took in a $7,500 donation from a wealthy Philadelphia philanthropist. He got $1,000 from one of the Democrats vying to succeed him. And both devoted campaign cash to advertising–even though Election Day is 1 ½ years away.

The 1st quarter campaign finance reports for Susan Bysiewicz and Rep. Chris Murphy offer an early glimpse inside what is almost certain to be a hotly contested primary, as the two Democrats vie to replace retiring Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent who decided to forgo a 5th term.

Bysiewicz ended the quarter with about $454,000 in the bank–about half the final cash-on-hand tally held by Murphy.

The former secretary of the state, Bysiewicz raised just over $500,000 since announcing she would run for the Senate on January 18th. She also listed a debt of nearly $29,900, according to campaign reports released Thursday.

Bysiewicz loaned her campaign that amount on Jan. 30th to conduct a “testing the waters” poll; in a note on the fundraising report, the campaign said that money is “to be reimbursed.”

Murphy reported raising a little more than $1 million, and the 5th District Democrat had about $944,000 cash-on-hand as of March 31th, the end of the first fundraising period in the still-nascent Senate contest.

The reports, due April 15th, were released Thursday. No Republican contenders have announced yet. But Linda McMahon, who spent $50 million of her own money on an unsuccessful Senate bid in 2010, has said she is considering another run.

When he announced in January, Murphy said he expected his campaign to cost as much as $10 million. And as their fundraising reports reflect, both Murphy and Bysiewicz have been scrambling for campaign cash over the last few months.

Most of the money they’ve snagged so far came from individual Connecticut supporters. But Murphy also raked in $117,600 from political action committees (PACs).

For example, he got $5,000 each from the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s PAC, the New York Life Insurance Company’s PAC, and General Electric’s PAC.

Murphy’s tally also includes a $57,500 transfer from his House campaign account to his Senate coffers. His latest House campaign report shows that he has another $30,000 in committee that he can use for his Senate bid.

Bysiewicz reported raising only $1,000 in PAC money. Such contributions, from corporate, labor, and other interest groups, generally flows to incumbents, so the chasm between Murphy’s and Bysiewicz’s PAC haul is no surprise.

In individual donations, Murphy also seems to have scooped up some establishment cash in Connecticut. For example, he received a combined $14,900 from Daniel and Jessica Fass, a Riverside couple who are among the state’s biggest Democratic donors. Also in that category, Murphy got $7,500 each from Stephen Mandel, a financial investor, and his wife, Susan Mandel, Greenwich homemaker.

He also received $1,000 each from Daniel and Elizabeth Esty, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s commissioner for environmental protection and his wife, who happens to be a candidate for Murphy’s 5th District congressional seat.

Bysiewicz got $7,500 from Peter Buttenwieser, a wealthy Philadelphia philanthropist and major national Democratic fundraiser, and $5,000 from Steve Murphy, a Democratic consultant in Washington. She also pried $7,500 out of Stanley Bysiewicz, her father.

When it came to spending, Murphy shelled out nearly three times as much as Bysiewicz. She spent less than $50,000 in the first quarter, while he spent $142,000.

Besides payroll for one campaign worker, Bysiewicz’s biggest expense appeared to be a $5,000 bill for Internet marketing and ads, paid to a New York firm. Murphy’s campaign also devoted a chunk of money to online communications–he paid $1,100 to Google and about $4,000 to Facebook, both for ads.