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Democrats Rack Up Big Cash Advantage in Top Senate Battlegrounds

·4 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic candidates started July with a huge financial advantage in four of five US Senate battlegrounds that could determine which party controls the chamber next January, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

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Republicans need to pick up one seat to take control of the chamber, which is evenly divided but under Democratic control because of Vice President Kamala Harris’s ability to cast a tie-breaking vote. But in three states that represent the most likely pick-ups and one where they must hold an open seat, Republicans will have to overcome a mountain of Democratic cash. All five races feature GOP candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

In three states rated toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, Democratic incumbents ended June with at least three times as much cash on hand as Republicans in the race. In Nevada, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto raised $3.9 million and ended June with $9.9 million in the bank, more than quadruple the $2.1 million that her Republican opponent Adam Laxalt had.

Laxalt, a former attorney general, was Trump’s campaign co-chair in Nevada. In the 2020 election’s aftermath, he filed several unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. Trump has endorsed Laxalt, who raised $2.8 million in the second quarter.

Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, who won a special-election runoff in 2021 to finish the unexpired term of the late Senator Johnny Isakson, raised $11.7 million in the second quarter and had $22.2 million cash on hand. That was three times as much as the $6.8 million that Herschel Walker, a fixture of the University of Georgia’s 1980 national champion team, had on hand after raising $3.6 million.

Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, who raised $13.6 million and spent $12 million in the second quarter, had the widest margin, with $24.9 million in the bank. That was 12 times as much as the biggest war chest among his potential GOP opponents, who are vying with one another ahead of the state’s Aug. 2 primary.

Businessman Jim Lamon, who has put $14 million of his own money into his campaign, had $2.1 million in the bank, the most among Republicans. Trump-backed Blake Masters, president of the Thiel Foundation and chief operating officer of Thiel Capital, raised $828,000, spent $1.5 million and ended June with $1.6 million cash on hand, second among candidates.

But he has hefty outside support from his employer. Peter Thiel has given $13.5 million, including $3.5 million in May, to Saving Arizona PAC, a super political action committee that’s supporting Masters. It ended June with $3.5 million in the bank.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, the only Republican in the race who has won a statewide election, had $513,000 in his campaign’s coffers after raising $537,000.

While Nevada, Georgia and Arizona offer Republicans the best opportunities to pick up a seat, they also have to hold an open seat in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where incumbent Ron Johnson has $3.6 million cash on hand and eight Democrats are competing in the state’s Aug. 9 primary. Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes had $1.5 million, the most cash among the challengers.

In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, raised $10 million and ended the second quarter with $5.5 million in the bank.

Republican Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor who won Trump’s endorsement, took in $3.8 million, including $2.2 million from his own pocket. Oz has loaned his campaign $14.3 million and ended June with $1.1 million cash on hand.

Some of the financial gaps can be filled by super PACs. The Senate Leadership Fund, closely allied to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, raised $37.6 million. The biggest chunk, $17 million, came from One Nation, an allied political nonprofit that doesn’t have to disclose its donors.

Among the big-named contributors were hedge fund manager Paul Singer and Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, each of whom gave $2 million.

The Senate Leadership Fund ended June with $104.8 million cash on hand.

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