‘Burn rate’ high as fundraising slows in 5th CD

For most, it was a tough summer raising money for the open seat in the 5th Congressional District: Democrat Christopher Donovan and Republican Justin Bernier were the only two candidates to see their fundraising improve over the previous quarter.

And two candidates, Republican Mike Clark and Democrat Michael Williams, fell far off the pace in the chase for dollars, collecting less than $31,000 each for the three-month period ending Sept. 30. Clark had suspended campaign activities for a month dealing with a brother’s illness and death.

In reports filed over the weekend, the other six candidates raised at least $90,000 each, with Donovan being one of three Democrats raising at least $200,000.

Money will play a role in eventually thinning the eight-person field drawn to the race by the decision of the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th District, to pass up a re-election bid to run for an open U.S. Senate seat.

Murphy spent $3 million on his re-election last year, without having to spend money on a primary. It is unlikely this year that either party will produce a nominee without a primary in the 5th District.

In the four-person Democratic field, Donovan, who is the speaker of the House, added $261,258 this quarter to the $242,756 he raised in the previous quarter, his first as an official candidate.

He was followed by the newcomer Dan Roberti, whose $209,715 fell far short of his $300,716 in the previous period; and by former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who raised $200,002, down from $251,442.

Esty, who now has raised a total of $623,806, is the leader in one measure: Her $474,899 cash on hand is the most money any candidate had in the bank as of Sept. 30.

Robert, whose fundraising total is $766,331, had $453,809 on hand. Williams, a college professor seeking office for the first time, raised $30,932 for the quarter and had only $31,962 on hand.

By far, Williams has the highest “burn rate” so far, spending 74 percent of his money. Roberti has spent 41 percent; Esty, 24 percent; and Donovan, 23 percent.

In the four-person Republican field, Bernier raised $160,341 in the most recent period, up from $140,058 in the previous quarter. This is Bernier’s second try for the nomination.

Lisa Wilson-Foley, a businesswoman who sought the nomination for lieutenant governor last year, raised $110,799, down from $202,507. Mark Greenberg, a businessman who sought the nomination last year, raised $90,618, down from $109,081.

Clark, a retired FBI agent and Farmington town council chairman, raised $27,594, down from $121,531.

The burn rate for Bernier, Wilson-Foley and Greenberg is 50 percent. Clark has spent only 28 percent of his funds.

Wilson-Foley leads the GOP field in cash on hand with $457,031, but that includes $300,000 she loaned to her campaign. Bernier had $191,216 in cash on hand, compared to $107,956 for Clark and $100,283 for Greenberg.

The congressional candidate with the most cash on hand is an incumbent, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, who reported having $717,644. Himes took the seat in 2008 from a Republican.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who won his seat from a Republican in 2006, was second, with $592,533.