As 2019 wound to a close, the season of giving proved to be a boon for incumbent Democrats Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, who combined to rake in more than $1 million ahead of the December 31 deadline, according to filings made last week with the Federal Election Commission.
Nine Republican candidates across both Lee and Horsford’s districts combined to raise roughly $1 million themselves, but more than half of that sum — about $536,000 — came in the form of candidate loans.
Lee and Horsford will likely be the only of Nevada’s four House members to see competitive elections in 2020. Lee in particular has already become a frequent target for national Republicans, who have sought to tie the moderate Democrat to the party’s progressive left wing in the wake of December’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
In the less competitive District 1 and District 2, represented by Reps. Dina Titus and Mark Amodei, respectively, there was far less fundraising activity. The two incumbents raised less than $300,000 combined, and no challenger in either district has yet to bring in more than five-figures.
Below is a breakdown of fourth-quarter fundraising data by congressional district, ordered by the total money raised by declared candidates in that district.
Much like the third quarter, incumbent Democrat Susie Lee led all of the state’s congressional candidates with more than $600,000 in fourth-quarter fundraising, bringing her total on the year past $2 million and leaving her campaign with more than $1.5 million cash on hand — by far the most of any congressional candidate in the state up for election in 2020.
It was also among the best fundraising hauls among all House members. For the first time, Lee cracked the top-50 House fundraisers, sandwiched at number 46 between fellow Democrats Reps. Sheri Bustos of Illinois and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia.
A little more than half of Lee’s fourth-quarter total, about $353,000, came from individual donors, while another $145,000 came from political action committees (PACs). The remaining $100,000 for the quarter came through a transfer from another of Lee’s campaign committees.
Individual donations are capped by federal law at $2,800 per candidate, per election, meaning no donor can give more than $5,600 directly ($2,800 for the primary, and another $2,800 for the general election).
Among those individual donors who maxed out their contribution to Lee are a number of Las Vegas business heavyweights, including Cashman Equipment CEO Mary Kaye Cashman, MGM Resorts International President William Hornbuckle and businessman and frequent Democratic donor Stephen Cloobeck.
Among the $147,000 Lee spent last quarter, much of it ($69,000) was split between salaries ($30,000) and consultants, including $26,000 to Colorado-based digital consultant 4Degrees Inc., $9,000 to Virginia-based fundraising consultant Fiorello Consulting and $3,750 to the Maryland-based Maccabee Group for research consulting.
Another Democrat, Richard Hart, filed for the 2020 race in late 2018, but has yet to file any other documents with the FEC in the time since.
Though Lee has so far outpaced any possible Republican rivals, two candidates have so-far dominated the fundraising race for the GOP: former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz and ex-pro wrestler Dan Rodimer.
Schwartz held a narrow edge over Rodimer in fourth quarter fundraising ($302,000), fundraising on the year ($565,000) and cash on hand ($447,000) — though he has also poured an extensive amount of his own money into the race in the form of personal loans. Schwartz gave his campaign $250,000 in the fourth quarter alone, boosting his loans for the year up to nearly $430,000, or roughly three-quarters of his total campaign war chest.
Of the almost $53,000 Schwartz spent last quarter, most went to political consultants. That includes $21,000 to local firm McShane LLC and $10,000 to North Carolina-based Saligram and Associates for fundraising consulting.
Close behind Schwartz is Rodimer, who raised $250,000 through the fourth quarter and $502,000 over the year, leaving his campaign with $294,000 cash on hand. Like Schwartz, Rodimer has placed a substantial amount in candidate loans into his 2020 bid — $100,000 in the fourth quarter and $165,000 through the entire election cycle so far.
Rodimer also proved to be the biggest spender in District 3 in the fourth quarter, doling out more than $168,000 and even outspending Lee by a margin of about $20,000. Much like the other candidates, a majority of that money was spent on various kinds of political consulting, with $95,000 spread across eight different consulting firms.
Unlike his opponents, however, Rodimer has already begun to spend thousands on advertising, including more than $20,000 in media placement fees to South Carolina firm Point1 (of which ex-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is a partner) and another $9,000 in fees to Silver State Radio, which operates two music stations in Las Vegas.
Another Republican candidate, Corwin “Cory” Newberry, has yet to file campaign finance documents with the FEC. Two other Republicans, Tiger Helgelien and Zach WalkerLieb, as well as an independent candidate, Alex Pereszlenyi, have dropped out of the race.
Democratic incumbent Steven Horsford raised more than $455,000 for his reelection bid in the fourth quarter, putting his yearly total at more than $1.5 million and leaving just over $1 million cash on hand. His war chest is larger than all but Lee’s, and it leaves him far ahead of his Republican rivals in the fundraising race, who together combine for just $674,000 cash on hand.
Of Horsford’s fourth-quarter fundraising, a little more than half ($217,000) came from PACs, while $210,000 came from individuals and another $27,500 came from Democratically-aligned committee transfers. Among Horsford’s notable donors are Cosmopolitan CEO William McBeath ($5,600), Jonathan Gray, president of the real estate group Blackstone ($2,800), and MGM Resorts President William Hornbuckle ($2,800).
The nature of the dozens of PACs that gave to Horsford ranged widely, from corporate PACs linked to WalMart ($3,000) or NV Energy ($2,500) to political or policy-based PACs like the House LGBTQ caucus-linked Equality PAC ($7,500) and Planned Parenthood Action Fund ($1,000).
Of Horsford’s near-$180,000 in money spent, a little less than half of it, $71,000, went to consultants and pollsters, including $29,000 for an internal poll in October. Nearly all of the remainder went to operating expenses, from Lyfts and Ubers to email hosting to event catering.
Among the seven Republicans still looking for the chance to take on Horsford in November, former Assemblyman Jim Marchant ended the quarter on top, raising $156,000 for the quarter and $333,000 on the year, leaving his campaign with just over $209,000 cash on hand.
After losing his seat in the Assembly in 2018, Marchant has sought to cast himself as fully in-line with the Republican party’s right wing, even gaining the endorsement last week of Freedom Caucus regular Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona.
But only about $56,000 of Marchant’s fundraising came through individual donors, including a maximum contribution from New York investor Edward Bramson. Filling out the rest of the quarterly total was a last-minute $100,000 candidate loan, tripling his total and bringing his total loans on the year to $110,000.
Of the $39,000 Marchant spent, the largest single chunk went to consulting firm McShane LLC ($15,000), with much of the rest going to operating expenses.
Marchant was followed by veteran and insurance salesman Sam Peters, who raised more than $145,000 for the quarter, marking his 2019 total at more than $283,000 and leaving nearly $206,000 cash on hand. But like Marchant, Peters buoyed his receipts with a last-minute $79,550 loan on Dec. 31, the last day before the fundraising period ended. That loan also raises his total loans on the year to more than $157,000.
Peters’ biggest donors were largely retirees, including at least one retired Navy captain and six others who gave the $2,800 maximum. In terms of spending, roughly two-thirds of Peters’ budget ($21,000 of $32,000 spent overall) went to advertising, including signs, radio and Facebook ads.
Though third among Republicans in raw fundraising totals, former Miss Nevada and local business owner Lisa Song Sutton led Republicans in individual contributions for the second quarter in a row, raising more than $130,000 in the fourth quarter and $258,000 through the year.
With $187,000 left in the war chest, the Song Sutton campaign has touted itself as the only Republican campaign with five-figures of cash on hand and no outstanding debt, with Song Sutton herself having so far given no loans to her campaign. A lack of loans hasn’t meant a lack of contributions, however, as Song Sutton did contribute $15,000 to her campaign in the fourth quarter and $35,000 through 2019.
Though federal law limits individual contributions to $2,800, any money spent by a candidate on their own campaign is considered “personal funds,” and those funds are not subject to limits so long as they are reported.
Song Sutton received 20 maximum contributions, including donations from Texas-based attorney Sonny Patel ($5,600) and UFC fighter Cory Hendricks ($2,800). And of $42,000 in spending, the largest chunk once again went to consulting and advertising (nearly $26.000), including $19,000 for Texas-based firm Amplify Relations.
Among the remaining Republicans, none broke the $100,000 mark for the quarter. Business owner Randi Reed came closest with $57,940 for the fourth quarter, $105,000 for the year and $33,000 cash on hand, while veteran Charles Navarro, who raised $107,000 through 2019 — largely on the back of a $75,000 loan from the third quarter — brought in just $9,500 in the fourth quarter, all while spending more than $53,000.
Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo raised the least of any candidate, just $1,500 for the quarter, $46,000 for the year and leaving $5,000 cash on hand. It was a quarterly haul even below that of nurse Catherine Prato, who dropped out of the race this month after raising just over $4,200.
Another late entry to the Republican race, Leo Dunson, has yet to file any financial documentation with the FEC.
Incumbent Republican Mark Amodei brought in a modest $144,000 in the fourth quarter, bumping his total for the year to near-$456,000 and leaving his reelection effort with just over $333,500 in the bank.
Amodei’s fundraising was largely split evenly three ways between individual donors ($52,000), PACs ($43,000) and committee transfers ($49,000). Among individuals and PACs, notable donors include Monarch Casino and Resorts President Bahram Farahi ($1,000), Retail Association of Nevada Executive Director Mary Lau ($800) and several PACs linked to Boeing ($3,500) and military contractors Northrop Grumman ($2,500) and Lockheed Martin ($2,000).
Amodei’s increased fourth-quarter fundraising was not enough, however, to push his campaign into the black for 2019. Though spending just $57,000 in the last three months of the year, Amodei spent just over $470,000 over the course of the year, dipping into his cash reserves by a margin of roughly $15,000.
Of that $57,000, much of it went to consulting and accounting fees ($26,000), with the rest falling to a mix of operational expenses such as gas mileage or catering.
Other candidates in District 2 include two Democrats, Clint Koble and Patricia Ackerman, though neither managed to raise more than $100,000 on the year. Koble came closest, raising $28,000 for the quarter and nearly $75,000 for the year, but consistent spending has left Koble with only $4,500 cash on hand.
Ackerman, who only entered the race in November, reported raising more than $15,000, including a $5,000 candidate loan. Much of that money went back into operating expenditures, however, and Ackerman enters 2020 with just over $4,000 cash on hand.
Two other candidates, Democrat Edward Cohen and Republican Jesse Douglas Hurley, did not report raising any funds in 2019.
Arguably the safest member of Nevada’s House delegation — more than 48 percent of voters in District 1 are registered Democrats, compared to just 21 percent registered Republican — incumbent Democrat Dina Titus reported raising more than $125,000 for the quarter, lifting her yearly total to nearly $443,000 and leaving $341,000 cash on hand.
Titus’ fundraising was roughly split evenly between individual contributions ($63,000) and PACs ($62,500), with notable donors including lobbyist Jay Brown ($2,800), filmmaker Robin Greenspun ($2,800) and PACs linked to Newmont Mining ($2,500), AT&T ($2,000) and Amazon ($1,500). Titus also received a handful of $5,000 from several unions, including Laborers International and the Transport Workers Union.
Of the $58,000 Titus spent, more than half went to transfers to other Democratic campaign committees, including $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and another $2,500 to the state Democratic Party. Of the remainder, $6,700 went to Wisconsin-based consultant Run The World Digital, with the rest going to operating expenditures such as food, payroll and travel.
Titus’ only challenger, Republican Citlaly Larios-Elias, reported raising $305 for the quarter, including a $100 donation from the candidate. Larios-Elias reported spending just 50 cents, though no more detailed information was available through the campaign’s FEC filing.