Campaign Cash Snapshot: N.H.'s 1st Congressional District

Jul 20, 2018

The fundraising narrative in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has been consistent from the start of the race: There’s Democrat Maura Sullivan way out in the front of the pack, thanks largely to out-of-state donors and other powerful political allies, and then there’s everyone else.

And that remains the case in the latest round of filings, which covered campaign donations received from April through June. After several strong quarters, Sullivan’s fundraising only picked up steam — she raised twice what any of her Democratic opponents did this quarter, and has a campaign war chest of more than $1 million.

So where is all that money coming from?

NHPR has already reported on how Sullivan’s record  as a veteran helped her to connect with organizations trying to recruit more people with military experience to run for office. But now that we’re in the height of campaign season, that background is also proving to be particularly valuable for fundraising purposes, as well.

Back in May, Sullivan entered into a joint fundraising agreement with a committee called the Serve America Victory Fund, which is set up to support veterans running for Congress. It’s backed by Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, a fellow veteran who is already hitting the campaign trail for Sullivan in New Hampshire.

Joint fundraising committees have been employed by plenty of other New Hampshire politicians in recent years, including Congresswoman Annie Kuster, former Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Sen. Maggie Hassan.  These can be a lucrative fundraising tool because they allow candidates from all across the country to team up to raise money from a broad pool of donors, as previously explained by NHPR

Since signing on with the Serve America Victory Fund in May, Sullivan’s received more than $41,000 — making it her largest source of campaign money this quarter. She got an additional $5,000 directly from the Serve America PAC, also backed by Moulton, plus another $5,000 from VoteVets Federal PAC, which supports a long roster of veterans running for state and federal office.

Just this week, Sullivan entered into a second joint fundraising agreement with the Serve America Women’s Victory Fund — which appears to be targeted at female veterans, specifically — so we can likely expect these committees to pump even more money into her campaign moving forward.

And on top of that, Sullivan also appears to be receiving some outside help from another veteran-centered group, With Honor, which bills itself as a “cross-partisan organization” trying to “elect principled next-generation veterans in order to solve our biggest problems and fix a Congress that is dysfunctional.” Their PAC gave Sullivan’s campaign $1,000 this quarter, but the group also recently dropped about $15,000 to pay for polling on her behalf.

That same group gave $1,000 this quarter to Eddie Edwards, a Republican running in the 1st Congressional District. It has publicly endorsed Edwards, Sullivan and Lynne Blankenbeker, a Republican running in the state's 2nd Congressional District.  

Raising money in a crowded race

Democrat Levi Sanders (son of the Vermont senator and former presidential candidate) still has not received a single itemized donation from a New Hampshire resident. His largest contributions this quarter came from a New Jersey law office and two additional New Jersey residents, each giving $2,700 apiece

Republican Andy Sanborn is also still relying heavily on his own money to finance his Congressional bid, as previously reported. After kicking in $200,000 on the very last day of the reporting period, June 30, Sanborn has now loaned his campaign more than half a million dollars total since entering the race last year. As a result, he also carries the most campaign debt of any candidate in the field: $548,065 as of the end of June.

Democrats Chris Pappas, Mark MacKenzie and Sullivan are all still reaping dividends from various PACs.

While Sullivan earned about $22,000 overall from PACs, Pappas was the largest overall recipient of PAC money this quarter. He brought in about $25,000 from groups led by Sen. Maggie Hassan and Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes, as well as those affiliated with the National Education Association and the Laborers' International Union of North America.

But among the three of them, MacKenzie is leaning most heavily on PAC money as a funding source. Donations from labor-affiliated groups made up about 63 percent of his haul this quarter. For Pappas, PAC money made up about 10 percent of his overall donations, and for Sullivan the figure was about 3 percent.

For more on where the candidates’ money is coming from, check out the graphics below. You can also dig into the filings on your own using ProPublica’s FEC Itemizer, a tool that digitizes campaign fundraising reports.