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Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 10:08 pm

Statehouse Dems dominate the dollar race

The House and Senate Democratic leaders have once again dominated the quarterly fundraising race. The Democrats are currently sitting on almost three times the amount of cash as the Republicans.

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s three committees raised a combined $591,000 in the quarter that ended June 30. Madigan had over $3.5 million cash on hand. Senate President John Cullerton’s two committees netted about $655,000 during the quarter. Cullerton finished with over $2.7 million in cash and investments.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross’ two committees raised $353,000 during the quarter. Cross ended the filing period with $789,000 on hand. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno raised just under $263,000 during the quarter, but had over $1.4 million on hand when the filing period on June 30.

The disparities become even more problematic for the Republican leaders when you look at some of their hottest races. For instance, Downstate Senate candidate Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, raised an impressive $127K in the second quarter and ended the filing period with $340K. In contrast, Manar’s Republican opponent, Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy, raised just $26K and had less than $69K in the bank at the end of June.

Manar is John Cullerton’s former chief of staff, so he’d be expected to raise a lot of cash, but this is a must-win district for the Republicans and they needed a far better performance out of their candidate. They’re going to have to dip into the reserves in a big way to help out McElroy if he doesn’t kick himself into high gear.

Mike Babcock, a Republican running against Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, raised a mere $6,263.25 and ended the filing period with less than $20K on hand. Haine, on the other hand, raised over $75K and had almost $430K in the bank. Babcock has since raised $5K from conservative businessman Richard Uihlein, who has helped bankroll former gubernatorial candidate and GOP operative Dan Proft’s various operations.

Uihlein contributed $72,500 to Republican candidates since the recently ended filing period began on April 1. The Uihlein list reads like a “Who’s Who” of hot campaigns. Randy Frese, who’s up against Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, received $5,000 from Uihlein. Freeze raised an impressive $111K during the quarter, and had $127K in the bank. That almost matched Sen. Sullivan’s $131K raised in the latest filing period, but Sullivan had over $435K in the bank.

The House Republicans, meanwhile, have attempted to push their candidates to raise more money with a new “Young Guns” program modeled on the federal “Super PAC” affiliated with U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. And Uihlein played a role there, too.

According to the House Republicans, Congressman Aaron Schock approached Leader Cross last year about starting a program similar to the federal Young Guns effort. Cross agreed and candidates were given fundraising and voter contact goals for the second quarter to qualify for big bucks. Generally, the fundraising targets were $50,000.

Jonathan Greenberg, a Republican running against Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, raised about $51K during the quarterly reporting period. That qualifies him, and the other winners for a $100,000 contribution from the state’s Young Guns network, which will pool money from Schock, Cross, Congressman John Shimkus and individual House Republican members.

According to the House Republicans, about a half dozen candidates out of 12 met their Young Guns goals and will receive the $100K in matching funds. Neil Anderson is one of them. Anderson, like Greenberg, received a late $5K contribution from Uihlein. Anderson is up against Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan. Uihlein’s money put Anderson over the $50K mark and qualified him for the Young Guns matching funds.

John Lawson also received a late $5K from Uihlein to get him into the Young Guns program. Lawson is up against Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, who raised a mere $1,795.31 in the quarter and had only $27K in the bank. Another late $5K Uihlein contribution went to Julie Bigham Eggers, who is running against Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton.

One other campaign finance story.  Even though State Rep. Mark Beaubien passed away last year, his campaign committee was still funding his widow’s independent House bid this spring. Dee Beaubien received over $15K from her late husband’s committee in April, when the account was finally closed out. This is not unusual. Rep. Bernie Pedersen died in 1996, but his campaign account wasn’t closed down until 2009.  

Rich Miller publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.
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