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Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Freshman U.S. Representative Nan Hayworth has almost a million-dollar head start on paying for her 2012 re-election.
Two years ago at this time, the New York Republican had raised less than $170,000 as she sought a congressional seat from the Hudson Valley. Now, she has raised $1.1 million through Sept. 30.
Hayworth, 51, is one of nine freshmen Republicans who raised more than $1 million for their re-election campaigns through Sept. 30, Federal Election Commission records show. Their fundraising a year out from the election gives the Republicans an early advantage in some key races as they attempt to hold their House majority.
“Money means a lot in congressional campaigns,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The more money they have, the more ads they can produce to shape their image and deflect attacks.”
Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the “freshmen are doing an outstanding job at mounting considerable support and that will put them in a position where they will not only be successful in their re-elections, but they will remain on offense.”
One reason Republicans are staying aggressive is the strong fundraising by some Democratic challengers in Republican-held districts.
Former Representative Dan Maffei, a New York Democrat, raised $453,026 for his rematch with Ann Marie Buerkle, who ousted him in November 2010. Republican Buerkle brought in $416,238. Maffei also had more money in the bank, $287,775, compared with $247,090 for Buerkle.
In another rematch, former Democratic Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, of Arizona, raised $500,039 through Sept. 30 and had $353,464 in the bank. Freshman Republican Representative Paul Gosar has raised $489,213 and banked $235,371.
Democratic candidate Ann McLane Kuster, running again against New Hampshire Republican Representative Charles Bass, took in $732,081 to the incumbent’s $601,741. Kuster entered October with $590,735 in the bank, while Bass, who reclaimed the congressional seat last year that he lost in 2006, had $488,539.
In addition, the House Democrats’ fundraising arm outraised its Republican counterpart through the first 10 months of the year, taking in $52 million compared to $49 million for the NRCC.
“Republicans need all the fundraising success they can get to distract voters’ attention from their radical agenda to end Medicare and block job creation, but many House Republicans can’t even get that,” said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
An ophthalmologist, Hayworth wound up raising $1.6 million in 2010 and lent her campaign an additional $500,000 as she ousted Democratic Representative John Hall, a former member of the band Orleans best known for the song “Still the One.”
With more than $890,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30, she hasn’t had to lend her campaign any money. Two Democrats are vying to challenge her. Cortlandt Town Board member Rich Becker raised $64,329 and lent himself $50,000, and Wappingers Falls Mayor Matt Alexander formed a campaign committee last month and hasn’t had to file a campaign financial disclosure.
“You want to show the strength of support that people believe in you enough to devote resources to the campaign,” Hayworth said in an interview. “It’s a general rule of the political world that when a given candidate has substantial resources, he or she becomes a more formidable opponent.”
Other freshmen Republicans have also started raising money early as they hope to prevail in districts rated as competitive by two Washington-based, nonpartisan publications, the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Patrick Meehan raised $1 million for his re-election. Two years ago, he collected $211,549 at this point in his quest for the congressional seat vacated by Democrat Joe Sestak, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate.
“I’m going to work tirelessly for my district,” Meehan said. The fundraising “sends a signal that I’m prepared to defend it.”
Representative Allen West of Florida led all Republican freshmen in fundraising through Sept. 30, bringing in $4.2 million and banking $1.8 million, according to according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, which tracks money in politics. He raised more than half, $2.3 million, in amounts of $200 or less. Two years ago, he’d collected $543,808 in the same period.
Two Democrats running for their party’s nomination to take on West in 2012, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy, vice president of an environmental cleanup company, have each raised more than $1 million.
“If people believe in what you’re doing up here and seeing that you are fulfilling commitments that you made, people want you to come back,” West said.
--Editors: Jeanne Cummings, Justin Blum
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