Money race for Congress: Can suburban Republicans compete?

Listen 4:01
(gagarych/BigStock)

(gagarych/BigStock)

Newly-filed campaign finance reports show Republican Congressional candidates in newly-drawn districts in Montgomery and Delaware counties have more cash on hand as of June 30 than their better-known Democratic rivals, though a closer look shows they have an uphill fight ahead.

Fundraising is only one measure of a campaign’s viability, but I wanted to take a look at the 2nd quarter filings to see how much headway the GOP hopefuls in those districts have made.

Pearl Kim, the former prosecutor who’s the Republican nominee in the 4th district centered in Delaware County, reported $293,000 on hand, compared to $167,000 for Democratic nominee Mary Gay Scanlon.

And in Montgomery County, Republican Dan David showed $202,000 in the bank, twice the $101,000 the Democratic nominee, State Rep. Madeleine Dean reported.

That’s good news for the Republicans, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

The Democratic candidates’ war chests are somewhat depleted because they just finished running in competitive primaries, which helped boost their name recognition. Now that they’re strong candidates in the general election, they can attract new donors.

Second, the two districts generally favor Democrats, which is why they had competitive races and the Republicans didn’t.

And finally, nearly half the money David raised and more than half the cash Kim raised came from the candidates themselves.

What the Republicans have in both districts are successful people who’ve made serious personal commitments to their races, but so far haven’t shown the independent fundraising horsepower to wage a strong Congressional race. But it’s only July.

In the 6th District, which includes Chester and part of Berks County, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan has $2.2 million on hand, more than 10 times the $134,000 her GOP opponent, tax attorney Greg McCauley reported (He loaned his campaign $75,000).

The big battle will be in the 1st District in Bucks County, the only one of the four Pennsylvania suburban seats that has an incumbent.

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s report shows he has $1,652,000 on hand, compared to $1,701,000 for his Democratic challenger, wealthy progressive philanthropist Scott Wallace. Wallace has already put nearly $5 million of his own fortune in the campaign, most of that spent on his primary win over Rachel Reddick and Steve Bacher.

The Bucks County race is expected to attract millions of dollars in outside spending, as both parties see it as a highly-competitive seat.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.