By Hastings Wyman –
The Federal Election Commission financial reports for the 1st Quarter are in for US Senators. The Southern senators up for reelection are all Republicans and the sizes of their war chests vary considerably, depending in part on the political climate in their states.
Alabama’s US Sen. Richard Shelby has by far the most cash on hand, though he faces little prospect of a strong challenge next year. Even if he were vulnerable, any opponent could well be buried in an avalanche of money from Shelby’s war chest, which exceeds $18 million.
Others bringing in major money are Tim Scott (SC), Johnny Isakson (GA) and Richard Burr (NC). Scott is very popular in the Palmetto State and isn’t likely to draw major opposition. If he does, however, he’s ready, with nearly $3.2 million on hand. In Georgia, given the Democrats’ poor showing in Peach State statewide races in 2014, Isakson is a heavy favorite, but he still has more than $3.7 million on hand. Richard Burr, however, seeking a third term in the Tar Heel State, could well face significant Democratic opposition. He is the early favorite, but he’s also getting prepared, raising more than $1.3 million in the 1st Quarter, with nearly $2.4 million cash-on-hand.
Rand Paul (KY) has a respectable amount of cash in the event his presidential bid fails and he seeks reelection to the Senate. David Vitter (LA), however, who is the favorite in his state’s gubernatorial race this fall, has let his Senate fund languish. Louisiana politicos won’t be paying close attention to next year’s Senate race until the 2015 gubernatorial election is over.
AL RShelby $320,000 $18,332,000
AR JBoozman 426,000 565,000
GA JIsakson 1,635,000 3,766,000
KY RPaul 347,000 2,636,000
LA DVitter 69,000 72,000
NC RBurr 1,355,000 2,392,000
OK JLankford 343,000 418,000
SC TScott 944,000 3,170,000
In Florida, last week US Rep. Ron DeSantis became the first Republican to enter the contest to succeed US Sen. Marco Rubio, who is stepping aside to run for president. DeSantis’ congressional war chest, which he can spend on a Senate campaign, shows he raised $430,000 in the 1st Quarter and had $1,099,000, cash-on-hand, far more than he would need in his safe GOP House district. DeSantis, 46, is a graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School and served in the Navy JAG Corps. He was encouraged to run by the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and other groups on the GOP right. Other Republicans are likely to enter the race, though DeSantis starts out in a strong position.
The only Democratic candidate to file for Rubio’s seat, US Rep. Patrick Murphy, raised $1,286,000 in the 1st Quarter and has $1,610,000 cash-on-hand. Murphy is well-liked by his party’s establishment, in Washington as well as Florida. Democrats hope Murphy can appeal to independents and moderates in both parties. He may, however, get a leftist primary opponent in US Rep. Alan Grayson (D), who has significant support among Sunshine State liberals.