One more sign of the favorable political climate facing Democrats this cycle is the sudden reversal of Republicans’ formerly unassailable fundraising advantage in districts nationwide. And we’re not just seeing the inevitable impact of Democratic incumbency here; according to an analysis released today by CQ, of the best-funded House challengers this cycle (as measured by cash on hand), nine of the ten top spots are held by Democrats.
And who should we find near the top of the list, in position number three?
3. Darcy Burner, Democrat, Washington’s 8th ($1.2 million). Burner, who was formerly employed by Microsoft, is taking on two-term Rep. Reichert ($916,000) in a suburban Seattle district in which she came within three percentage points of unseating the congressman in 2006. Burner’s challenge is one reason why Reichert is among the most vulnerable Republican incumbents; so too is the likelihood that his district will back Barack Obama over John McCain for president. CQ Politics Race Rating: No Clear Favorite.
Burner is also one of the few challengers on the list with a substantial cash on hand advantage over the incumbent… a margin that I expect to substantially widen at the end of this month’s pre-primary reporting period. And as CQ notes, this isn’t the only advantage Burner is likely to have come November:
Some of these Democratic challengers may also benefit from added assistance from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats that has tens of millions of dollars more than its partisan counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, to spend on television ads and other campaign communications.
The DCCC has already booked a million dollars worth of TV ads in WA-08 this fall. No word yet of an NRCC ad buy on Reichert’s behalf.
Obviously, Burner’s hard fought fundraising advantage puts her in a better position to win this November than she was heading into the 2006 election, but it also tells us a bit about the relative support of the two candidates. According to OpenSecrets.org, Burner and Reichert have raised similar amounts in-district and in-state, but the real disparity comes when looking at individual vs PAC contributions. Thus far Burner has raised 84% of her funds from individual contributors, a constituency that provides only 59% of Reichert’s funds. That’s a huge difference, and a disparity that’s likely to grow between now and November.
It’s gonna be a nail-biter, but if I were Reichert I’d be pretty damn worried.