Fundraising reports released Tuesday (Oct. 15) show U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, with a slight fundraising advantage over U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., as Cotton fights to keep Pryor from winning a third term in the Senate next year.
Other campaign reports released Tuesday showed former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, a Democrat, with a continued fundraising advantage over his potential GOP rivals in the 2014 race for Arkansas Governor.
A Federal Elections Commission summary of fundraising and expenditures provided by the Cotton campaign showed that the campaign took in receipts of nearly $1.073 million during the last three months, while Pryor's campaign reported receipts of nearly $1.068 million during the same period. (Link here for Pryor's report, and link here for Cotton's report.)
While Cotton barely edged Pryor in fundraising last quarter, Pryor has the advantage when it comes to money in the bank. As of today, he has $4.4 million cash on hand according to a press release from the campaign. Cotton will report only having $1.806 million cash on hand.
Jeff Weaver, Pryor's campaign manager, said the senator's fundraising numbers show support from across the state.
"Folks here know Mark as someone who always puts Arkansas first, and voters next year will have a clear choice between Congressman Cotton's narrow, reckless agenda and Mark's record as a responsible and reliable voice for Arkansas families," he said.
But Cotton challenged that claim, saying his edging of Pryor showed that Arkansans were ready for change.
"Grassroots support for my campaign in Arkansas has been tremendous. There’s a strong desire for change among Arkansans. They see the party-line votes in the Senate where Senator Pryor votes every time with Harry Reid and Barack Obama for a big spending, left wing agenda that is hurting small businesses and preventing job growth. I hear repeatedly that we need a Senator who will not just talk about putting Arkansas first but who will actually vote in Arkansas’s best interests.”
Justin Brasell, Cotton's campaign manager, pointed to the Talk Business-Hendrix College poll released on Sunday, showing Pryor and Cotton in a dead heat more than a year away from the November 2014 election (Pryor 42%, Cotton 41% with 17% of voters undecided).
"It’s a major accomplishment to out raise an incumbent Senator like Mark Pryor. This is a big first step for our campaign. Every poll that we’ve seen shows Senator Pryor in the low to mid 40s. That’s a bad sign for an incumbent, and there’s good reason for that," he said. "Senator Pryor has been in Washington for ten years and has never seen a spending increase he didn’t like. Arkansans are eager to elect someone like Tom Cotton who will be an advocate for taxpayers, who will fight for common sense spending reforms and who believes Congress should actually pass a budget."
In the race for governor, former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, followed up his record breaking second quarter fundraising total of $1.97 million with another record breaking third quarter.
According to reports filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State's office today, Ross raised a total of $1.12 million, which Ross' deputy campaign manager Dustin Smith said was a fundraising record for any Arkansas gubernatorial candidate's second quarter. He added that such strong fundraising shows the weaknesses of his three Republican opponents – North Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman; State Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers; and former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson – and took a swipe at Hutchinson's two losses in a 1986 U.S. Senate race and the 2006 race for governor against then-Attorney Gen. Mike Beebe.
"Mike Ross continues to raise more than all of the Republican gubernatorial candidates combined, and we are making incredible progress toward having one of the largest, most effective grassroots campaigns in state history,” said Smith. “Unlike his likely Republican opponent, Mike Ross has never run for statewide office. As Mike introduces himself to voters across the state and shares his positive vision to move Arkansas forward, our support and momentum will continue to grow all the way to victory on Election Day.”
More poll numbers from Talk Business-Hendrix College released Sunday show Hutchinson with a slight lead over Ross (Hutchinson 41%, Ross 37% with 22% undecided), which Ross said show Arkansans are wanting a governor who can work with both Republicans and Democrats.
"We have recently moved into a statistical dead heat with our likely Republican opponent, and I am humbled by the continued support from all across Arkansas that has given us another record-breaking fundraising quarter,” said Ross. “Arkansans are tired of the politics that divide us, and they want commonsense, bipartisan leadership. As governor, I will unite this state to improve education, create more good-paying jobs and cut taxes for working families – all in a fiscally responsible way that continues to balance the state’s budget.”
Fundraising reports for Hutchinson only show the former Congressman raising $390,000 during the third quarter. He did state in an interview with The City Wire on Thursday night (Oct. 10) that the campaign had met its fundraising goal for the third quarter.
"Oh, we expect to be very competitive with Mike Ross in our fundraising. We're right on target with our budget. I'm very pleased with where we are. We met our goal for this quarter. It will be shown in the report that will be coming up. So we're in good shape as we move forward into next year's campaign and there's going to be plenty of money in this campaign to get our message out."
Hutchinson raised only $370,000 during the previous quarter. He blames the low tally on his primary challenge with North Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman and Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers. Ross no longer has a primary challenge following the departure of former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who exited the race shortly after confirming his involvement in an extramarital affair.
"Well, what's happened on the Democratic side is that they have consolidated behind one candidate and have focused really on the governor's race. So the Democrats have clearly outraised the Republican side and I think it just simply reflects that they're focusing on that race, they're consolidating with Gov. Beebe. All the machinery of the Democratic Party is behind it. So that's the reason for the excess money that they've raised, but there's no question that (a) Republican candidate will be competitive when we have our general election."
Including the third quarter totals, Hutchinson has raised more than $1.2 million and is reporting more than $1 million cash on hand.
Hobbs reported raising $4,705 and a personal loan to her campaign of $50,000. Her campaign has $46,493 cash on hand. Coleman's numbers have not yet been released.
In the race for lieutenant governor, former Arkansas State Highway Commission Vice Chairman John Burkhalter, the only Democrat in the race, reported raising $530,195 during the last quarter, including a $25,000 loan to the campaign. The campaign also reported $456,790.30 cash on hand as of Oct. 15.
The report shows Burkhalter's fundraising prowess, having only reported a $30,000 loan to his campaign in his second quarter contribution and expenditure report, shortly after announcing his bid for the state's number two job. He ended the second quarter with only $5,648.49 cash on hand.
Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, raised $6475 and loaned his campaign $46,528, resulting in cash on hand of $51,431. Reports for Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, were not yet available.