Note: This piece was originally published on Primary School's Substack. Labyrinth supports the brilliant work done by Primaries, but does not necessarily endorse all views articulated in this piece.
21 April 2021
Née Primaries for Progress, the latest release by Primary School to be published in Labyrinth covers newly-released fundraising data per the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Check out the Primary School Substack.
At long last, we present the return of Primary School’s only official holiday: FEC Week. For any readers who have joined us since last cycle: the Federal Elections Commission requires candidates to file a report on their campaign’s finances every 3 months, covering Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sept, and Oct-Dec, as well as supplementary reports before and after elections. The reports are due the first business day 15 days after the periods end, which was Thursday in this case, so we have our first batch. While finances aren’t everything about a campaign, they can tell us a lot about the strengths and focuses of campaigns.
CA-29: Angelica Dueñas isn’t raising much money, but she raised close to nothing last time around, and still got 43.4% of the vote in 2020.
CA-30: Brad Sherman, one of the Democratic Party’s biggest war hawks, has two challengers at the moment: Shervin Aazami, deputy director of communications at the National Indian Health Board, and Aarika Rhodes, an Andrew Yang acolyte who’s been running since June of last year. Both are running on progressive campaign platforms, and both are not in exactly great financial situations, but it’s very early.
HI-01: Ed Case isn’t facing a primary challenger right now, but that’s an embarrassingly bad quarter for an incumbent. Just thought we’d point it out.
IL-08: In 2019, the authoritarian, anti-Muslim, Trump-esque Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi came to the US for a political reception. Only one Democratic member of Congress attended: Raja Krishnamoorthi. This went over quite poorly with the Muslim community in his district, as well as national Muslim organizations. Krishnamoorthi, a member of the moderate New Democratic caucus, had never been a favorite of progressives anyway, ever since his first election to succeed Tammy Duckworth in Chicagoland-based IL-08, but support for Modi is another level of awful. Enter Junaid Ahmed, who runs a local IT consulting firm. Ahmed launched his campaign in mid February, on a progressive platform that includes standbys like Medicare for All and free college, but also makes sure to note that he will “hold foreign governments accountable for their persecution of religious, ethnic, caste based and other minorities”. At the time, his candidacy was barely noted by the local press, and he told Politico Playbook that he was inspired to run by Bernie Sanders and that he hoped to “out-organize” instead of compete with the incumbent on the financial battlefield. Despite that inauspicious comment—organizing is essential, but it’s also not free—Ahmed raised over $215,000, meaning this campaign is for real.
OR-05: Last cycle, Kurt Schrader spent over a million dollars on the project of pummeling his progressive challenger, underfunded mayor Mark Gamba, as thoroughly as possible. If he’s expecting another expensive race this time around, he isn’t showing it.
NY-12: Last time around, Carolyn Maloney ran out of money and resorted to digging into her personal funds at the end. This $385,000 quarter is, on one hand, a sign that she wanted to build up something of a war chest before what is guaranteed to be another bruising primary, but also a sign of why she ran out of money last time. She’s a committee chair, and she represents Wall Street. She should be able to knock out $500,000 without trying very hard, and a million with some effort. Carolyn Maloney will probably have a financial advantage here, but it will be slight. Adbelhamid raised over $100,000 on her first day alone.
TN-05: Is Jim Cooper running for reelection? No, seriously, is Jim Cooper running for reelection? $7,660 is one of the worst quarters an incumbent member of Congress has had in years. It may be the single worst for any incumbent this quarter. He was never a superstar fundraiser, but he would at least bring in 6 figures in the past. And it’s not like he has that much money on hand. This really does look like he figures that the GOP will demolish his Congressional district, so he’s just given up. Or, at the very least, that he’s not willing to do the work of call time until he knows whether he’ll have a district to run in.
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