Report: Democrats Who Flipped Red Districts in 2018 Are Steadily Building Cash Advantage

October 25, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The conventional wisdom this summer was that House Democrats who flipped red districts in 2018 would be particularly vulnerable if the chamber moved forward with an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

But an analysis by the Center of Responsive Politics has found that 11 Democrats seeking re-election in districts rated as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report are having no trouble raising money from donors.

Through September, the 11 pro-impeachment Democrats have raised an average of nearly $1.7 million, the Center reported, well over the average $787,500 raised by the average House member.

The flush 11 are Reps. Elissa Slotkin, of Michigan; Max Rose, of New York; Antonio Delgado, of New York; Xochiti Torres Small, of New Mexico; Abigail Spanberger, of Virginia; Andy Kim, of New Jersey; Lauren Underwood, of Illinois; Elaine Luria, of Virginia; Ben McAdams, of Utah; Cindy Axne, of Iowa, and Abby Finkenauer, of Iowa.

What’s more, the Center found that through the end of September, Democrats running for House seats had a combined $292 million on hand compared to Republicans’ $208 million.

Significantly, six of the 11, all of them women — Reps. Spanberger, Luria, Craig, Slotkin, Axne, and Finkenauer — are running in districts that Third Way, the public policy think tank, recently ranked among the most important in the country if the Democrats are to hold on to control of the House and potentially win the White House and Senate.

Each of the women flipped a district from red to blue in a tight race in a district that voted for Trump in 2016. Each are located in a 2020 Presidential and Senate battleground state.

“Every voter in these districts will make a meaningful choice for President, Senate, and House when they go to the polls in 2020,” wrote David de la Fuente, Third Way’s senior political analyst. “There is not enough money, volunteer time, and attention that can go into these districts.”

In addition to their own fundraising efforts, all six are members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline Program designed to protect vulnerable incumbents, and all are members of the moderate New Democrat Coalition.

Impeachment

The Center for Responsive Politics found the 11 pro-impeachment Democrats it focused on in its analysis took varying approaches to incorporating their support for it into their fundraising efforts.

For example, it said, Rep. Spanberger, who has been outspoken on the impeachment issue, has run advertisements on the subject to raise money.

“This week, national Republican groups started running attack ads against me for standing up for the Constitution and our nation’s security,” Spanberger says in one spot cited by the center.

Rep. Luria, a fellow Virginian, took a similar approach, urging supporters to back her campaign in the face of Republican attacks.

“As a Navy Commander, I swore an oath to defend this country from enemies both foreign and domestic,” Luria says in a campaign ad. “That’s why I took a political risk and supported impeaching Donald Trump.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the center said, is Rep. Ben McAdams, who represents what it called an “ultra-red district.”

Instead of talking impeachment in his solicitations, McAdams has instead gone after the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations in fundraising appeals.

Republicans Go On The Offensive

Perhaps in recognition that their members are falling behind in the money race, the Republicans have gone on the offensive in a number of ways.

The Center for Responsive Politics noted that Vice President Mike Pence has been busy of late, traveling to House districts around the country to attack vulnerable Democrats over impeachment.

He recently traveled to Rep. Axne’s district to support her Republican challenger, former Rep. David Young.

Young is one of the few Republican challengers with money to spend. The former member has nearly $567,000 cash on hand, less than half of Axne’s total but still better than most Republican challengers at this stage, the center’s analysis said.

At the same time, the Republican National Committee recently targeted more than 60 incumbent Democrats — including the most vulnerable Democrats — with a $2 million TV and digital ad buy focusing on impeachment.

Pro-Trump “dark money” group America First Policies announced a $1 million ad campaign targeting 28 Democrats in swing districts over impeachment, the center said.

Meanwhile, most of the most vulnerable Republicans have already announced they will retire at session’s end. Those who plan to defend their seats don’t have much money to speak of, the report said. 

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