story by Ryan Saylor
The fundraising gap is getting closer for two Hot Springs Republicans vying to replace U.S. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, in Congress.
Businessman Tommy Moll reported raising only $142,000 during the fourth quarter of 2013, a 49.47% decrease from his third quarter total of $281,000.
At the same time, Arkansas House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman showed consistency during a reporting period that typically sees a significant drop in reported donations due to the period falling during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holidays. Westerman reported raising $107,074.16 during the fourth quarter, only a 3.07% drop from his third quarter fundraising total of $110,466.43.
While Westerman may be closing the fundraising gap, his campaign is still at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to cash on hand. The leader of the Arkansas House Republicans reported $154,992.49 cash on hand. By contrast, Moll — whose strong third quarter totals took him from somewhat obscurity to a formidable candidate in the expansive 4th Congressional district — reported cash on hand of more than $358,000.
Moll said his campaign's first two fundraising quarters, which saw more than $423,000 in donations, would allow him to introduce his message across the district.
“Our campaign is off to a great start, and thanks to our generous supporters we will have the resources to spread our common sense conservative message of constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, and economic freedom.”
Moll's fundraising report comes the same week he was endorsed in his Congressional bid by FreedomWorks PAC, a group strongly associated with the Tea Party movement.
In announcing the endorsement Tuesday (Jan. 28), FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said Moll's business background would set him apart in the halls of Congress.
“Tommy Moll’s extensive background in economics and trade policy, combined with his business experience in the energy sector, will be a refreshing addition to Congress. Moll is a committed fiscal conservative who will fight ObamaCare and Medicaid Expansion, and be a strong voice in the next generation of leaders in the Liberty Caucus.”
While Moll may be securing endorsements, Westerman's campaign is taking a different approach, stating that "93% of donations were from Arkansas. Among Arkansas donations, 67% came from the Fourth District with 67% of those contributions coming from Garland County."
The reference by the Westerman campaign draws a contrast between its candidate and Moll, who grew up in the 3rd District city of Fort Smith and attended college in Virginia, graduate school in the United Kingdom and law school in New York.
In a statement on his website, Westerman said he was "especially moved by the large amount of support I have received by the people of my hometown, where I learned the common sense rural conservative values that we need more of in Congress.
Beyond thanking supporters in Hot Springs, he also took effort to address donors across the Fourth District.
“I am very thankful to the large amount of Fourth District supporters who helped us exceed our goal this quarter by making an investment in my campaign to fight the unfair, top-down, centralized government of President Obama and remind him that it is Congress that legislates, not the White House."
Dardanelle Democrat James Lee Witt, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the Clinton administration and a former Yell County judge, reported raising $243,946.17 during the fourth quarter. He entered the race on Nov. 5 and is being challenged by community college instructor Janice Percefull of Hot Springs.
The primaries for both Democrats and Republicans statewide will be held May 20, with a general election set for Nov. 4.