With only two weeks left to go before the important June 30 FEC cutoff, things are at a fever pitch in the federal races, particularly CD8. So it is very timely - and appreciated - that the National Journal has undertaken to assess the CD8 race, with a particular focus on fundraising.
Eyeing a district where 62 percent of voters favored President Obama in 2012, five well-credentialed candidates have already jumped in hoping to make a safe House seat their own. With the field expected to expand, it appears that candidatesâ€™ highest hurdle to getting the seat wonâ€™t be beating a Republican opponent in the general election, but rather surviving a crowded field in the Democratic primary.
And there, with little policy daylight separating the contenders, the ability to rack up campaign cash will go a long way toward picking the winner.
Democrats suggest it will take at least $1 million to mount a viable primary campaign, with some pegging the figure as high as $3 million. By contrast, successful House candidates spent an average total (primary and general election combined) of $1.45 million in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“Without a doubt, this will be a very, very expensive primary. And while money will not dictate the winner, money may dictate whoâ€™s the most competitive,” said former Van Hollen chief of staff C.R. Wooters. (Wooters isnâ€™t backing anyone in the race and was not speaking on Van Hollenâ€™s behalf.)
My own opinion is that $1 million wonâ€™t get you very far in this expensive media market. $3 million would be nice but I donâ€™t think it is a necessity. $2-2.5 million is the range to shoot for, to allow for a good mix of TV and direct mail outreach.
There are things I donâ€™t agree with about the article, like granting Kathleen Matthews instant front-runner status while discounting Kumar Barve as a niche Indian candidate. Yesterdayâ€™s Barve endorsement announcement certainly casts doubt on that characterization.
But NJ is right about this much: this race is going to be defined by money and the ability to raise it. The next two weeks are going to define perceptions about money, and a poor second quarter report could well damage a campaign quite badly.
The minions and I will be watching closely here at Rumor Central, trying to get a jump on the numbers and analyzing them as they become available. You wonâ€™t want to miss a minute of the action.