With $1.2 million haul, Blumenthal kicks off campaign cash chase

Washington – Although he has yet to announce his political intentions, Sen. Richard Blumenthal raised about $1.2 million in campaign cash this year — a sign he’s mounting a race for re-election.

In his campaign’s latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, Blumenthal reported having nearly $1.6 million in cash on hand at the end of the filing period, March 31.

He started the year with about $600,000 in his campaign and raised about $912,000 from individuals and $231,000 from political action committees, or PACs, in the first three months of 2015.

The senator’s campaign spent about $160,000 on operating expenses this year, the FEC report shows.

Among the fundraisers held for Blumenthal’s re-election this year was a lunch sponsored by the Honeywell International PAC at the company’s lobbying offices in Washington, D.C., in late January. Requested donations ranged from $500 to $5,000. The following month, wealthy supporters in the senator’s hometown of Greenwich held another high-dollar fundraiser.

Blumenthal’s campaign has also made appeals to small donors, including  one that was e-mailed to supporters just before a March 31 cutoff.

“With six hours until the FEC deadline, we’re $3,793 short of our goal,” it said. “Hitting this goal will mean we’re ready when extremists try to surpass the $50 million they spent against me in 2010…Just $5 would make a big difference.”

But Blumenthal does not have a challenger, at least not yet.

David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller and 2014 Republican lieutenant governor candidate, considered challenging Blumenthal. But Walker accepted a job with PricewaterhouseCooper in the Washington, D.C., area last month.

The Connecticut Republican Party, however, says it will recruit a challenger.

Nationally, a total of seven Democratic senators are running for re-election next year, and three other Democratic senators are retiring, leaving open seats.

Meanwhile, the GOP will have to defend 22 incumbents next year, as well as open seats in Florida and Indiana.

That scenario is almost a mirror image of the situation last year, when there were 21 Democratic Senate seats up for election and only 15 Republican seats in play. Democrats lost nine seats in that election, flipping control of the Senate to the GOP.

Democratic losses last year were attributed largely to the fact many Democratic incumbents were running for re-election in swing states. But most Democrats running next year, including most likely Blumenthal, will come from deeply “blue” states, and the GOP is expected to have a tougher time hanging on to Senate seats in 2016.

All Senate races, however, will likely be affected by next year’s presidential contest.

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