Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray enters her re-election year with a massive fundraising edge over Republican challenger Chris Vance.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray heads into her 2016 re-election bid having amassed a campaign bank-account balance that is about 138 times larger than that of her Republican challenger.
Murray, a Democrat seeking a fifth term this year, raised nearly $1.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Her campaign ended the year with $5.95 million in the bank, according to a campaign spokesman.
Chris Vance, the former state Republican Party chairman who is challenging Murray, raised about $76,000 in the fourth quarter, with $43,000 cash on hand. He has raised about $94,000 in 2015 since announcing his campaign Sept. 8.
In an email to reporters, Vance said his fundraising pace started off slow but picked up in the final two months of the year — a trend he expects to continue.
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“Patty Murray will raise far more money than we will. But we are on track to raise the funds necessary to deliver our message to voters statewide this fall,” Vance said in the email.
In a statement through a spokesman, Murray’s campaign said, “Patty goes to work every day to be a voice for Washington state families and fight back against the gridlock in D.C., and she is proud to receive such strong grass-roots support across the state as she prepares to run for re-election.”
Further details of both candidates’ fundraising will be due in reports to the Federal Election Commission at the end of January.
One national political expert said Vance’s fundraising totals indicate the difficulty he faces trying to unseat Murray.
“Good Senate fundraising quarters generally feature seven digits’ worth of fundraising. Vance did not even get to six,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, in an email.
While national Republican groups can help make up such fundraising gaps, Kondik said there is no indication Republicans are prioritizing the Washington state race.
As a leader among Senate Democrats, Murray’s fourth-quarter numbers were bolstered by an October fundraiser headlined by President Obama.
She’s coming off a major legislative win, working with Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to forge a bipartisan rewrite of the much criticized No Child Left Behind education law.
Still, Vance hopes to tap into voters angry at Congress and Washington, D.C., dysfunction and is challenging Murray’s record on immigration, national security and the federal debt.
After 24 years in the Senate, Vance asked in a recent email, “Does anyone think Patty Murray is going to help bring about the real changes we need?”