It’s not exactly a surprise, but the incumbent Congressmen in safe districts who havestatewide aspirations tend to have the largest war chests.
Take, for instance, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch). His Republican opponent, former Judge Robert McLeod, didn’t even raise the $5,000 that would require him to fill out a report with the Federal Election Commission. But Pallone is raising and spending money anyway, raking in $302,139 last quarter for a total of $2.18 million this election cycle. He has $3.36 million on hand – the largest war chest in Congress – and spent $304,000 this quarter.
That money is not being spent against McLeod. The expenditures listed in the FEC report includes a $189,015 cable television ad buy. The commercial, which began on Tuesday, is playing all over the state north of Interstate 195, in places well beyond Pallone’s district.
The second largest war chest belongs to U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Fair Lawn), who like Pallone has designs on a U.S. Senate seat. He only raise $68,468 last quarter but has raised $1.12 million this election cycle and has $1.84 million on hand. Republican challenger Vince Micco, who ran against Rothman in 2006, has some catching up to do, having raised $11,958 last quarter. He has $3,199.25 on hand.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Vineland) has by far the healthiest Republican war chest, with $1.52 million on hand. That’s likely not because he has an interest in statewide office, but because he knows that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is actively recruiting popular State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) to run against him in 2010.
LoBiondo raised $239,017 last quarter. His opponent, Cape May Councilman David Kurkowski, who only decided not to run after Van Drew decided not to for this year, raised $69,690 this quarter and has $49,076 on hand. He’s raised a total of $169,921 to date.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), another Democrat interested in a U.S. Senate seat, comes in fourth with $1.21 million on hand. He raised $188,000 last quarter. He’s facing a spirited but long shot campaign by Republican Roland Stratten, who raised $13,825 last quarter and has $39,271 on hand.
U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark) doesn’t have any interest in a Senate seat, and he’s not facing even a token challenge by a Republican this year. But he has plenty of money anyway. While he only raised $44,452 last quarter, he has $1.05 million on hand.
Next is U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Princeton), who raised $195,555 last quarter and has $757,289 on hand. His opponent, Alan Bateman, has gotten some financial help from fellow House Minority Leader John Boehner, a fellow Ohioan. Bateman raised $23,235 last quarter and has $5,176 on hand.
In District 11, U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) raised $154,925 and has $644,697 on hand. His repeat challenger, Tom Wyka, raised $21,748 and has $23,541 in the bank.
Never a fundraising powerhouse, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) took in $186,709 last quarter – only $44,000 more than his opponent – and has $577,995 on hand. Democratic challenger Josh Zeitz, a college history professor and author, raised $125,376 last quarter and has $142,471 on hand.
Meanwhile, since starting out just a couple years ago, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-Union City) has finally lost the distinction of being the most cash poor Congressman. He raised $12,100 last quarter, for a total of $938,397 to date, and has $189,871 on hand. His opponent, Jersey City lawyer Joseph Turula, did not file a report with the FEC, meaning he probably raised less than $5,000.
For the moment, the Congressman with the least money in the bank is U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights), who burned through his million dollar war chest by waging a primary challenge against U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park). He raised $37,125 last quarter and has $174,300 on hand. Opponent Dale Glading raised $10,285 last quarter and has $4,838 on hand.