Washington – U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s Republican challenger Margaret Streicker had more campaign cash at the end of the quarter than the longtime congresswoman, but the coronavirus pandemic has for the most part hurt GOP congressional candidates in Connecticut.
Republican challengers are struggling to get their names known and their messages out as social distancing has ended face-to-face campaigning and appearances at events.
Fundraising is difficult for challengers, too, as many potential donors are facing financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus and group fundraising events have ended because of the pandemic.
“Coronavirus has us looking to figure out how to do things differently,” said Streicker, a Milford-based real estate company owner. The pandemic, she said, “clearly gives a huge advantage to incumbents.”
Connecticut’s Democratic incumbents had already amassed sizable war chests even before the virus struck.
DeLauro, in office since 1990, has raised $846,666 in this campaign cycle, while Streicker, who entered the race in January, raised $309,036. That includes personal loans from Streicker to her campaign that total about $130,0000.
Still, Streicker ended the quarter with more campaign cash — nearly $270,000. DeLauro ended the quarter with $197,605 in cash on hand, according to the latest reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
DeLauro campaign chairman Sarah Locke said there are no plans for a push for campaign donations. At least not for now.
“We’re not fundraising at all,” she said. “We haven’t fund-raised since March 9. We feel it’s not appropriated to do so.”
That may not matter much. DeLauro has a weapon Streicker lacks. Her 30 years representing the heavily Democratic 3rd District gives her high name recognition, and her job as a congresswoman gives here official resources to send mailings and conduct electronic town halls to keep in touch with constituents.
“It’s all constituent services now,” Locke said.
Still, Streicker has raised more money than any other GOP challenger in Connecticut.
Key Dems have fundraising advantage
Republican challengers in other states have found it hard to raise money, too.
There are 42 incumbent Democrats on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “vulnerable” member’s list , including Connecticut first-term incumbent Rep. Jahana Hayes. Each had raised at least $1 million by the end of the first quarter. Most of the Republicans seeking to unseat them have raised far less, lessening the odds the GOP can flip at least 18 seats to recapture the U.S. House in November’s elections.
Hayes, D-5th District, has raised $1.1 million for her re-election and ended the quarter with about $1.1 million in her campaign account.
Meanwhile, Republican challenger David Xavier Sullivan, an assistant U.S. attorney, has raised $136,055 and ended the quarter with about $52,000.
Another GOP challenger, Robert Hyde, has not benefited from his notoriety when it comes to raising political cash. His behavior came under national scrutiny during President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings when messages between him and Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, came to light. The messages appeared to discuss the surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich.
Hyde has raised only about $24,000 and ended the quarter with about $645 in his campaign account.
Two other GOP candidates seeking to unseat Hayes have also lagged in campaign fundraising. Ryan Meehan, a business executive and U.S. Army combat veteran, has raised about $22,000. Ruben Rodriguez, of Waterbury, a New Britain water department employee, raised $3,782.
Barbara Ellis, spokeswoman for the Hayes campaign, said that like DeLauro, Hayes has not actively raised campaign money since March 9. “That’s when everybody started to think about lock downs,” Ellis said. “We have not solicited any money since then and cancelled all fundraising events.’
Ellis, however, said the situation would be “revisited” in a few weeks. “She needs to raise money,” Ellis said.
Despite the fundraising advantage, Ellis said, Hayes “takes nothing for granted.”
Connecticut’s other Democratic incumbents also outpaced their GOP rivals in campaign cash.
Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, who is running unopposed, has raised about $872,000 for his re-election.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, has raised nearly $596,000, ending the quarter with more than $1 million in cash-on-hand. His Republican challengers, Thomas Gilmer, an accounts manager from Madison; and Justin Anderson, a retired corrections officer and U.S. Army combat veteran, have raised $64,387 and $47,387 respectively.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, raised about $870,000 and had the the most money of any member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation in his campaign account at the end of the quarter – about $2.5 million.
Himes also swamped his Republican challengers in fundraising.
Correction: The last name of U.S. Rep. Rosa’s DeLauro’s Republican challenger was spelled incorrectly in the original version of this story. It is Streicker, not Streiker.