The Candidate’s Best Friend: Cash On Hand

We’ll soon be getting into the meat of the 2014 primary season, with North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio voting on May 6; Nebraska and West Virginia on May 13; and Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania on May 20. Polling is still sparse in most states, and polling of primaries is a risky venture in any case. But you can often separate contenders from pretenders late in the game by looking at their financial resources.

First quarter fundraising numbers for the fiery Senate race in Georgia show a pretty significant division of the field, particularly in terms of cash on hand for any sort of late push. I’m sad to report that Rep. Paul Broun heads into the home stretch with only $224,730. It’s beginning to look like it will take a scattered vote and an intense level of turnout among his devotees to vault everybody’s favorite wingnut to a runoff. Another early favorite, Karen Handel, also continues to struggle financially, with $386,795 on hand. (It’s beginning to become apparent that David Perdue’s presence in the race has sapped Handel’s past fundraising base in the network of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, David’s cousin.) Perdue has $700,000 on hand, but has likely already bought some ads, and also has the capacity to throw more personal money into the campaign whenever he wants. Meanwhile, Jack Kingston, the wily appropriator who is buying himself a conservative reputation, has $2.1 million on hand despite heavy ad spending. And most surprising of all, Phil Gingrey has $2.4 million. Gingrey, however, is having to deal with a stunning profusion of attack ads from an outside conservative group (largely funded by Joe Ricketts) that initially looked like its focus would be going after Democrat Michelle Nunn.

Speaking of Nunn, she now has $3.9 million on hand, following the obvious strategy of quietly campaigning while waiting for the GOP candidates to tear each other apart. And as noted before, those Republicans still have to get through a runoff after May 20.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.