From Sunday’s Washington Post:
The traditional fundraising advantage held by incumbent lawmakers — which Republicans have regarded as a safety wall in their effort to keep control of Congress — has eroded in many closely contested House races, as many Democratic challengers prove competitive in the race for cash.
In a year of bad omens for the GOP, the latest batch of disclosure forms filed with the Federal Election Commission offers one more: Incumbency no longer means that embattled Republican representatives can expect to overwhelm weakly funded Democratic challengers with massive spending on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.
This trend is nowhere more apparent than in Washington’s 8th Congressional District where challenger Darcy Burner has outraised incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert two straight quarters. The Burner campaign has reportedly raised over $1.3 million thus far — more than any other 8th District Democrat at this point in the election cycle — with the overwhelming majority coming from individual donors.
Burner needs to raise another $1 million between now and November in order to have the resources to respond to the negative attacks that will inevitably come, so if you haven’t already contributed to her campaign, please give now.
Of course, even if Burner hits her target she will likely be outspent by her opponent, but not by nearly the margin necessary to drown out her message. Reichert had a helluva headstart, but he’s been struggling to raise cash even as his race has grown into one of the most competitive in the nation. Part of Reichert’s problem is that unlike his opponent, he’s simply too lazy to do the hard work necessary to raise money from rank and file individuals. (Imagine the Sheriff spending six hours on the phone, asking constituents for money.) But part of Reichert’s fundraising problem is that it’s simply not a good year to be a Republican in Washington state.
We all know President Bush isn’t too popular these days — especially in Reichert’s 8th district — a fact brought home by a rare presidential visit that only netted the congressman about $240,000. How disappointing was this total? Well, by comparison, a similar campaign stop by President Bush on behalf of 13-term Republican Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (FL-22) brought in a tidy $800,000.
It’s hard to know for sure, but it’s quite possible that Bush’s visit may have actually raised less money for Reichert than the backlash raised for Burner. Ouch.
Either way, one thing seems perfectly clear… the traditional advantages of incumbency don’t seem to be so overwhelming for Dave Reichert this year.