Dealt setbacks on the trail, Biden’s fundraising slows in Pa.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden rallies with supporters in Philadelphia on Saturday, 5/18/19. (Capital-Star photo by Nick Field)

(*Updated: A previous version of this story said that Republican Benjamin Hornberger had filed a statement of candidacy for a 2020 congressional race in the 9th District. Hornberger filed a 2020 statement of candidacy in 2017, but later amended his filing to state that he was running in 2018.)

WASHINGTON — While he still holds a fundraising lead, former Vice President Joe Biden’s support among Pennsylvania donors slowed down during the third quarter of the year, newly released campaign finance documents show. 

Biden raised more than $900,000 from Pennsylvania from April through June — about twice his receipts from July through September, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Biden’s closest polling rivals for the Democratic nomination, U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, raised more in the last three months than they did in the first half of the year, filings by their respective campaigns show.

Even so, Biden continues continues to rake in more contributions from Pennsylvania than any other Democratic presidential candidate. And despite slipping in recent months, he still leads state and national polls.

Born and raised in Scranton, Biden — who served six terms as a U.S. senator from neighboring Delaware — has deep ties to the Keystone State. 

He launched his presidential campaign in Pittsburgh, opened his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, and has campaigned throughout the state — including a Wednesday visit to the Scranton Cultural Center, where he told supporters that he learned everything of value in the old industrial city. “Scranton sort of creeps into your heart and never leaves you.” 

His message is resonating among the state’s Democratic donors. 

Trump slams Dems, pitches nat gas future during Pittsburgh visit 

From July to September, Biden took in about $450,000 from Pennsylvanians — well ahead of his closest rivals, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. They raised about $300,000 each in Pennsylvania during the third fundraising quarter. 

Those numbers include itemized contributions — all of those that exceed $200, and some smaller donations. 

Biden’s fundraising lead in the state continues a trend he set in the first half of the year. He’ll be “tough to beat” in Pennsylvania because of his strong relationship with the state, said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. 

Once regarded as the frontrunner, Biden has stumbled in recent months thanks to lackluster performances in presidential debates, controversy over his son’s business activities in Ukraine, and sluggish fundraising at the national level.

Placing fourth in the state’s dash for dollars was South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who raised about $220,000 in the third quarter. On his heels are Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey (about $182,000), Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota (about $131,000) and Kamala Harris of California (about $127,000).

Ex-U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a former three-star admiral from Pennsylvania’s former 7th congressional district, ran about even with Klobuchar and Harris despite barely registering in the polls. Called “the most interesting Democrat you forgot was running” by conservatives, Sestak pulled in $135,000 during the third quarter.

President Donald Trump trounced them all, pulling in more than $800,000 in the last three months alone. He has taken in $2.4 million from Pennsylvanians— about a third of the nearly $7 million Pennsylvanians have given to presidential candidates.Trump’s fundraising numbers, however, date back to 2016. 

Trump also traveled to Pennsylvania this week to deliver a speech in Pittsburgh, and Vice President Mike Pence visited a glassmaker near Scranton.

The president won Pennsylvania’s prized 20 electoral votes in 2016 by less than one percentage point. The state is expected to be fiercely competitive in the general election but will likely have little influence on the Democratic primary. That’s because its primary date — April 28 — is late in the season, coming after the majority of states hold primaries and caucuses.

By that point, Madonna said, Pennsylvania’s preference likely won’t matter.

Pa. lawmakers stockpile cash

Endangered members of Congress are also stockpiling cash in preparation for 2020.

In the competitive, Bucks County-based 1st District, moderate Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has raised more than $1.3 million so far — blowing past three Democrats in the race: advocate Debbie Wachspress, local official Judi Reiss and state official Christina Finello. Wachspress has raised a little more than $200,000; Reiss has raised a little more than $100,000; and Finello about $61,000. 

Businessman Andrew Meehan, a Republican challenging Fitzpatrick, has raised less than $10,000.

In the hotly contested 10th District, GOP Rep. Scott Perry — who’s viewed as one of Congress’ most vulnerable incumbents — has raised more than $600,000 and has about half a million dollars in the bank. That’s about double the amount raised by each of the two Democrats in the race. 

Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s elected auditor general, has raised about $360,00 and attorney Thomas Brier has raised just over $300,000. Perry’s primary challenger, political upstart Bobby Jeffries, has raised about $21,000.

Democratic U.S. Reps Conor Lamb, of Allegheny County’s 17th District, and Matt Cartwright, of northeastern Pennsylvania’s 8th District, are also amassing big campaign accounts in preparation for 2020.

Lamb has raised nearly $750,000, dwarfing Republican Scott Timko, who has raised less than $25,000 so far. Cartwright has raised some $873,000, while the only Republican challenging him so far, Harry Haas, didn’t announce his candidacy until October and hasn’t yet filed a financial report. 

The four freshmen Pennsylvania Democratic women who won election last year are also building big campaign war chests, though none is regarded as vulnerable by some national political observers.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, of the Chester County-based 6th District, has raised $1.3 million and is closing in on $2 million in the bank. Rep. Susan Wild, of the Lehigh Valley’s 7th District, has raised upwards of $1 million. And Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, of Delaware County’s 5th District, and Madeleine Dean, in the neighboring 4th District in Montgomery County, have raised more than $400,000 each. 

The three other freshman in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation — GOP Reps. Guy Reschenthaler, 14th District; John Joyce, of the 13th District, and Dan Meuser, of the 9th District,  — are also building war chests, though they too are seen as safe bets.

Reschenthaler has raised about $527,000 and has $122,000 in the bank. Joyce has raised almost $400,000 and has about $364,000 on hand. Reschenthaler’s opponent, Democrat Logan Howard, did not file a financial report yet, and Joyce does not have a challenger yet.

*Meuser, for his part, has raised about $300,000 and has nearly $200,000 in the bank. No Democrats have filed statements of candidacy in the race.

More than a year out from Election Day, it’s too early to tell if the evenly split 18-member delegation will tilt toward one party, Madonna said.

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