By Alex Isenstadt, Politico
House GOP freshmen – many of them political novices who rode to victory on an anti-Washington wave – are discovering they aren’t very good at one of the capital’s most pressing chores: raising money.
Newly released third-quarter fundraising reports brought some sobering news for many of the newcomers. In some cases, it was even ugly.
“You have a lot of freshmen who have never been in politics. So a lot of us are doing something we have never had to do before,” Florida Rep. Steve Southerland told POLITICO shortly after his report hit the Federal Election Commission’s website. “It’s not that natural a thing, asking people for money. Especially now, people are struggling.”
For GOP strategists tasked with defending the 25-seat majority next year, a few members stand out for their less-than-impressive hauls. Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold, a radio talk show host before winning his seat, raised just $102,000 over the last three months. North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers, a former nurse, reported a paltry $97,000. Southerland, who had operated a family-owned funeral home before winning his Florida Panhandle-area seat, had an even tougher time, taking in $90,000.
House GOP aides say they knew all along that this quarter would be especially tough for the freshmen. The summer months are a notoriously difficult time to get donors to open their checkbooks, and the heated debt-ceiling debate kept members away from fundraising.
Still, a bad fundraising period is like a bad political report card for first-termers.