WASHINGTON — Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, said he has raised nearly $52.5 million as of June 30, putting him well ahead of the pack of Republican contenders who are locked in the final days of a fight bitter primary.
Without a primary challenger, Kelly began the final months of the campaign with nearly $25 million in cash while the five GOP hopefuls, just two weeks out from their primary, had less than a combined $5 million in the bank, according to most recent reports with the Federal Election Commission.
But while Kelly continues to release what analysts call “astronomical” fundraising numbers, they note that outside political action committees have targeted more than $42 million. oppose him in the general election this fall. And that with an unpopular president, Democrats face headwinds in November.
“I don’t think the Republican Senate estate in Arizona has blown anyone away, but at the same time, the national environment is pretty bad for Democrats,” said Kyle Kondik, editor of the Center for Politics of the University of Virginia. “Kelly can do everything right and make an unlimited amount of money and still lose.”
And Kelly, who one analyst says “continues to be the benchmark for fundraising,” is definitely raising money. Of the $52.5 million he had raised as of June 30, according to the FEC, Kelly said he had spent just under $29 million this election cycle, leaving $25 million in the bank.
Those numbers eclipsed his five Republican challengers, who said they raised a total of $25.4 million and spent $20.1 million ahead of the Aug. 2 primary.
Businessman Jim Lamon continued to lead the GOP field in campaign funds, with $15 million raised as of June 30, but $12 million came from Lamon’s own pockets. Lamon said he had $2 million on hand as of June 30.
But Lamon’s spending hasn’t gotten him past the lead currently held in most polls by GOP hopeful Blake Masters, who said he’s raised $4.6 million and has $1.6 million. in hand. Masters’ campaign was boosted by major funding from his former boss, tech billionaire Peter Thiel, and a coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
One analyst said the lack of local donors to these campaigns could be a problem.
“If you don’t have grassroots Republican supporters who have donated to your campaign, are they going to be excited about you?” asked J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the U.Va. Policy Center.
But Masters, with Trump’s endorsement, leads the Republican field in most polls followed by Lamon and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who said they had raised $3 million and spent $2.5 million as of June 30. and $308,185, respectively, as of June 30.
While they battle in the primary, Kelly was able to focus on fundraising, becoming the nation’s second-biggest Senate fundraiser, behind Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., who said he raised a total of $84 million as of June 30. .
“(Kelly) is releasing the same kind of astronomical numbers that we’ve come to expect from him since he started running for the Senate a few years ago,” said Inside Elections reporter and analyst Jacob Rubashkin.
Kondik said Kelly and Warnock, who both won their Senate seats in hotly contested special elections in 2020, “continue to dominate fundraising.”
“Kelly and Warnock have basically campaigned nonstop for years due to the circumstances of their special election wins, they’ve continued to prove themselves to be incredible fundraisers,” Kondik said.
This was echoed by Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections.
“I think the combination of his coming out of one high-profile Senate race and another high-level Senate race, and the way he’s been able to cultivate his list of supporters and donors over the years continues to carry its fruits,” Gonzales said. .
Kelly’s performance isn’t just down to the “strong fundraising slate” he built during his 2020 campaign, said Jessica Taylor, Senate and Governors’ editor at the Cook Political Report. . She also pointed to his bipartisan appeal and the notoriety he enjoyed as a famous former astronaut and husband of gun control advocate and former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Taylor said Kelly’s best bet was to put his money in the bank at the moment, given the amount of outside money that would be pouring in in the Arizona Senate race against him. FEC reports show that outside PACs — including the Senate Leadership Fund, linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Defend Arizona — have already earmarked more than $42 million to oppose the Kelly’s re-election.
Rubashkin said outside money is already being spent on the race and it “will only increase in pace and ferocity as we get closer to Election Day, especially because there is a such a discrepancy between Kelly’s fundraising numbers and those of his various potential opponents. ”