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November 1, 2014

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election 2012:

Female candidates, including Shelley Berkley, winning Senate dash for cash

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Steve Marcus

Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley speaks during the National Clean Energy Summit 5.0 at the Bellagio Tuesday, August 7, 2012.

Democrats are winning the so-called War on Women, at least when it comes to fundraising.

The 12 Democratic women running for Senate this fall have raised a combined $110 million, more than twice as much as the $42 million their Republican opponents have raised.

Their cash advantage is fueled by liberal donors looking to secure seats in some of the hottest swing states, cash funneled through Emily’s List — which earmarks donations to pro-choice Democratic women — and donors fired up over reproductive rights controversies.

Labor unions, human rights groups, abortion rights advocates and environmentalists are also all ponying up from their political action committees, especially in states like Massachusetts and Wisconsin that could decide the balance of power in the Senate.

Pro-choice women’s groups reported a surge in fundraising this year after GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood funding and a comment from Rush Limbaugh about a female law student shifted momentum in their direction.

Since then, the fight over contraception has dropped from the headlines, but “women have not forgotten the attacks on Planned Parenthood; this is integral to their lives,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “They aren’t going to forget because it’s not on the front page of the paper today. They are remembering and they’re responding to that.”

It’s not just Democrats who are piling up cash. Republican women running for Senate in Hawaii, New Mexico and Connecticut have also outraised their opponents.

Combined, the 18 women running for Senate have raised more than $135 million this cycle.

Women could hold more seats in both chambers of Congress next year than ever. In the Senate, women could add as many as seven seats to their current record high of 17. In the House, a record number of 154 women have won their primaries this year, with 25 women still alive in primary races, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Elizabeth Warren, running against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, is leading the way after raising more than $25 million in the most expensive Senate race in the country. Brown has raised $17 million.

Warren received nearly $1 million from Emily’s List, which overall has channeled more than $4 million to Democratic female candidates so far this cycle. The group has donated more than $500,000 each to Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada.

“There is clearly an appetite amongst donors to elect good strong Democratic women who share their values,” said Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock. “We have seen an increase of more than a million members now since the Republicans began their war on women 18 months ago. That enthusiasm is reflecting very much in the totals that these candidates are posting.”

Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his vice-presidential running mate has added fuel to the fire. After the announcement last week, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued a statement calling the Romney-Ryan ticket “dangerous to women’s health,” and hammering Ryan for his voting record on family planning issues. Planned Parenthood released a Web video denouncing the GOP candidates for their stance on women’s health.

The fundraising numbers are also helped by the fact that 2012 is on pace to be the most expensive federal election ever and also competitive across the board — Republicans need to capture only four seats in November to take control of the Senate.

The latest fundraising numbers were compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which includes money raised during the six-year 2007-12 Senate cycle.

In Wisconsin, Rep. Tammy Baldwin has raised $7 million, more than twice the $2.5 million raised by GOP candidate Tommy Thompson. Baldwin — who is openly gay — is the top recipient among Senate candidates of donations from gay and lesbian rights groups. But Thompson, who clinched the nomination on Tuesday after a hard-fought primary, will likely see a surge in cash as Republican donors coalesce around a single candidate.

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley has raised $7 million, giving her an edge over incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller. She’s the top recipient of labor cash this cycle among Senate candidates, having raked in more than $300,000 from labor groups. Still, she’s facing an uphill battle in the race, and she’s at the center of an ethics probe into whether she used her seat in Congress to improperly benefit her husband’s medical practice.

Democratic Sens. Kirstin Gillibrand of New York, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are all considered safe in their races and have big cash advantages over their opponents.

Gillibrand, who has raised more than $14 million this cycle, is the top recipient in Congress of cash from lawyers and law firms and the entertainment industry. She’s raised another $113,000 through her leadership PAC, which she’s used to boost women running for the House and Senate.

Cantwell has raised $10.6 million compared to Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner’s paltry $690,000. Klobuchar has raised $9 million compared to Kurt Bills’s $394,547.

Feinstein has raised $8 million compared to Elizabeth Emken’s $390,000. Feinstein loaned $5 million to her campaign after her former treasurer embezzled an estimated $4.5 million from the campaign. Emken loaned her campaign $200,000.

McCaskill and Stabenow, the two most vulnerable Democratic women incumbents this cycle, are getting a lot of help. McCaskill has raised $12.5 million, compared to just over $2 million for Republican Rep. Todd Akin, who came out on top of a contested primary fight earlier this month. Stabenow has raised $12 million to former Rep. Peter Hoekstra’s $3.5 million.

Three of the Democratic women running are trailing their opponents in fundraising. In Maine, Democrat Cynthia Dill and Republican Charlie Summers are both trailing former Gov. Angus King, who’s running as an independent.

In North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp has raised about $1.8 million less than GOP Rep. Rick Berg in their battle over the seat held by retiring Democrat Kent Conrad. Heitkamp, who has trailed Berg in recent polls, has tried to put some distance between herself and the left. She’s skipping next month’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and hasn’t asked Emily’s List for their endorsement.

And in Hawaii, Mazie Hirono has raised $3.4 million compared to former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle. $4.4 million. Despite her cash deficit, Hirono has held a comfortable lead in a series of recent polls and has gotten a boost from liberal groups. Roughly $412,000 of Hirono’s campaign cash has come through Emily’s List, and she is the No. 2 recipient of labor cash among Senate candidates after Berkley.

On the GOP side, New Mexico’s Heather Wilson has raised $4 million, about $200,000 more than Democrat Martin Heinrich in the race for retiring Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s seat.

In Connecticut, World Wrestling Entertainment magnate Linda McMahon will face off against Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy for outgoing Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat. McMahon lost a Senate race in 2010, despite spending $50 million out of her own pocket. This time around, she has loaned her campaign about $12 million of the $14 million it raised by the end of July.

“What’s significant is the fact that you have so many women running in so many of these important, competitive states that that both parties are vying for,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “What comes with that is the money; the parties want to win those seats.”

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  1. I'm pleased to see women are energized in this effort, mobilized to go after the entire Tea/Republican Party and their despicable self-declared World War Women.

    So far, the Tea/Republicans have been winning the battles.

    But they are NOT going to win the war.

    There will be hell to pay for their narrow minded attacks against women; not against women themselves, but all legislation they have introduced, from State to national levels, focuses on women only because of the equipment they possess that's between their bellybutton and their knees.

    It's way past a time for reckoning for the crap women have had to put up with to be able to have affordable, adequate health care, and their abilities to make family planning issue decisions.

    I'm glad to help by voting in Berkley.

    And since I'm now away from Heck and in the new CD1, I'll be voting for Titus also.

    The Tea/Republican tendency to portray Planned Parenthood as the boogeyman and show that women are the root of all evil needs to stop. Enough. I'm personally sick and tired of their constant need to immerse me in their hell world.

    Bring on November 6, 2012. It's time to get rid of this extreme and radical thought. I'm starting to think that the Tea/Republican Party, in its entirety, is now a rabid foaming-at-the-mouth narrow minded fanatical religious organization that has now become a political party. They are no longer even a shadow of their former greatness.

    Time to crush them. It's WAY past time for them to pay the piper. Especially with the uncalled for way they have been treating women.

  2. A Voice from Women (that came with the millions)

    We leave you alone in pursuit of your happiness in whatever way and form you deem right to you, so...

    Leave us alone to decide for ourselves what we want to do in pursuit of our own.

    Until such time that you bleed monthly; be pregnant for nine months; suffer through labor to give birth, and nurse - YOU MAY NOT DECIDE for us what we want to do with OUR body.

    "Men can be wonderful individually, but in groups????..."

    Just wondering... Has the sale of aspirin surged yet?

  3. Bob, that's some good stuff.

  4. Thanks, kepi, for the kind words and compliments.

    I just hope that the women of this great nation understand the constant assault on all of their health issues centers and are conducted by only the Tea/Republican Party.

    With that in mind, I hope they all march arm in arm, fire flashing in their eyes, solely determined to absolutely crush the Tea/Republican Party to dust, voting all of them bums out of power.

    Because to vote any other way is to encourage them to do more incredibly stupid things to womens' health issues and family planning.

    I really wish I could look at it another way, but all indications show this World War Women was started and is still ongoing by the most radical and extreme ultra-conservatives I have ever seen. And they ALL perpetuate the Tea/Republican Party.

    I would think women are up to their necks sick and tired of these narrow minded men and their warped vision of what women are supposed to want and do.