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Candidates for various offices have submitted their fundraising totals for the first three months of the year with the 2024 election season in full steam. 

Groups supporting both President Biden and former President Trump have provided updates ahead of Monday’s filing deadline, while candidates for the House and Senate have also announced totals.

Here’s what we learned from the most recent campaign filings:            

Trump trying to close fundraising gap with Biden 

While the actual Biden and Trump campaigns did not file quarterly reports, multiple committees related to their campaigns did, giving a picture of where fundraising stands for the incumbent and former president entering the spring. 

Biden has built up a significant fundraising advantage over Trump for months, entering March with $155 million in cash on hand to Trump’s $42 million. But the filings for the first quarter and Trump’s recent fundraising activities indicate he’s trying to close the gap as the general election gets underway. 

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee (RNC) formed a joint fundraising committee called the Trump 47 Committee last month to direct donations to where they want to use the money. The committee raised more than $23 million throughout the part of the first quarter after it formed, and it transferred about $10 million to the RNC. 

Another joint fundraising committee between Trump’s campaign and his affiliated Save America PAC raised more than $65 million during the quarter, leaving it with more than $13.6 million cash on hand at the start of April. 

But Biden still had a strong quarter that kept him in front of Trump’s totals. The Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee composed of the Biden campaign, Democratic National Committee and various state Democratic parties and committees, raised more than $121.3 million and has $41.1 million cash in the bank. 

The two candidates’ fundraising will likely only tick up as Election Day gets closer. The Trump campaign’s fundraiser earlier this month, at which a campaign official said they raised $50 million, would not have been included in the first quarter reports. 

But Trump will need to play catch up to keep up with the fundraising numbers Biden is putting up. 

Trump’s legal expenses rise 

At the same time Trump trails Biden in bringing in money, the former president has also been forced to devote a significant portion of his funds to his multiple legal battles. 

Trump’s fundraising committees spent about $50 million on legal expenses throughout 2023, and the massive spending will likely continue throughout this year as well. Jury selection began Monday in the first of four criminal trials Trump is facing, this one in New York on allegations of hush-money payments he made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels. 

His leadership PAC, Save America, spent $3 million on legal fees in January and $5.6 million in February. The committee must file its March monthly report that will show legal spending for that month by Saturday. 

One key detail of the agreement between the Trump campaign and the RNC is that donations will go to Trump’s campaign and the Save America PAC, which is covering his legal expenses, before going to the RNC. 

Another committee supporting Trump, called Make America Great Again PAC, spent more than $1.7 million on legal fees. 

The combination of Trump trailing Biden in fundraising and so much of what the presumptive GOP nominee does raise going to legal expenses does not help the former president in his comeback bid. Some strategists have said Trump’s financial deficit may not harm him as much as it would other candidates, but his legal fees aren’t going away anytime soon. 

Democratic Senate candidates hold cash advantage 

A consistent bright spot for Democrats as they face the challenging task of holding on to their narrow majority in the Senate has been their fundraising totals, and that continued into the first quarter. 

Almost every Democratic Senate candidate running in a battleground state this year outraised their likely Republican opponent during the first three months of the year. 

One of the largest disparities was in the Ohio Senate race, where Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) is defending his seat and seeking reelection in a state that voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020. He raised more than $12 million during the first quarter, giving him $16 million cash on hand. 

Businessman Bernie Moreno, who won the Republican nomination for the seat last month, raised about $3.7 million and only has $1.8 million in cash on hand. The former car dealership owner emerged from a crowded three-way primary race and may be able to improve his fundraising totals now that he is the nominee, but Brown has an early advantage. 

In the other state that voted for Trump twice and has a Democratic incumbent, Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) turned in a strong quarter with $8 million raised and $12.7 million in the bank. The campaign said it was a record for a first quarter in a Montana Senate race. 

Republican Tim Sheehy has consolidated the GOP behind him as the likely nominee and raised $3 million this past quarter. But he still has much less than Tester in the bank, at $1.9 million. 

Republican Kari Lake significantly improved her fundraising for the Arizona Senate race last quarter with $4.1 million, but her likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Ruben Gallego, still outraised her with $7.5 million. 

These fundraising advantages could be critical to Democrats, who are defending many more seats than they can realistically gain with the Senate map this year. 

Personal loans fuel some candidates’ fundraising 

Candidates on both sides of the aisle also showed a willingness to use their own funds to support their campaigns, some of whom provided sizeable amounts. 

Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) was the largest self-funder of the past quarter as he faces Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) for the open Maryland Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D). 

Trone raised just more than $200,000 from donors’ contributions, but he loaned his campaign $18.5 million, allowing him to spend well more than Alsobrooks, who otherwise would have outraised him. Trone spent almost all of what he raised in the first quarter, leaving him with $1 million in the bank. 

A few Republican Senate candidates made significant loans. Republican Eric Hovde technically took in more money for his campaign for Senate in Wisconsin than incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), raising $9.1 million to Baldwin’s $5.4 million. 

But $8 million of that total came from a loan Hovde gave to his campaign. Baldwin still has more cash on hand, $10.3 million to $5.3 million for Hovde, but Hovde slightly outspent Baldwin in the quarter. 

Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Dave McCormick loaned his campaign $1 million, allowing his total haul of $5.3 million to be close to Democratic Sen. Bob Casey’s $5.6 million. 

Half a million dollars of Sheehy’s $3 million in Montana came from a loan, and $1.5 million of Moreno’s total haul was a loan, some of it before he won the nomination and some of it after. 

Contested House Democratic primary battles heat up 

One storyline to watch as states’ congressional primaries approach this spring will be contested Democratic primaries for House seats. Several progressive Democrats are facing challenges from a more moderate opponent, and money poured into several of their campaigns this past quarter. 

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) is facing a challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer. The progressive Democrat, who has been more critical of Israel amid its war against Hamas in Gaza, raised $1.3 million, giving him more than $1.4 million cash on hand. 

But Latimer surpassed that with $2.2 million raised and more than $3 million in the bank. 

Another challenger to an incumbent, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, outraised Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) by a few hundred thousand dollars. Bell took in $960,000, while Bush raised about $678,000. 

That race features a contest between two progressives, but one split between the two is on Bush’s sharp criticism of Israel, among other issues. 

Both Latimer and Bell have been endorsed by key pro-Israel Democratic groups, Democratic Majority for Israel and Jewish Democratic Council of America, giving them some establishment backing in their efforts to unseat incumbents. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one Democrat seen as potentially vulnerable to a primary challenge who has also been critical of Israel, had a strong quarter both in general and compared to her primary opponent. 

She raised almost $1.7 million in the first quarter, while former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels raised only $400,000. Samuels narrowly lost to Omar in the Democratic primary in 2022.

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