Sanders Is Top Vt. Fundraiser

  • FILE - In this July 11, 2017, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. rides an escalator on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republicans are fending off questions about Russia and the Trump campaign, and dealing with an unpopular health care plan. But Democrats have yet to unify behind a clear, core message that will help them take advantage of their opponents' struggles. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) Jacquelyn Martin

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    Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a "Care Not Cuts" rally in support of the Affordable Care Act, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Covington, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) ap photograph

Published: 7/18/2017 11:56:05 PM
Modified: 7/19/2017 12:09:19 AM

Vermont’s junior senator led the state’s congressional delegation in fundraising in the second quarter of the year.

The latest campaign finance reports show that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., netted the most money among Vermont’s representatives in Washington. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., had a solid quarter, while Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who secured his eighth term in the U.S. Senate in November, brought in modest collections.

The latest quarterly reports, required by the Federal Election Commission, were due on Saturday.

Sanders, whose Senate seat will be up for re-election next year, raised almost $1.3 million in the second quarter of 2017. With that, he had nearly $4.9 million in his congressional election coffers as of June 30, should he seek re-election.

Sanders appeared to be buoyed by his supporters across the country.

The report filed by Friends of Bernie Sanders, the campaign committee supporting his Senate re-election, chronicles more than 2,000 receipts between April 1 and June 30. Many contributions ranged between $4 and $500. While some of those donations came from Vermonters, the bulk were from residents of other states, including Massachusetts, Florida and California.

Expenditures for the period totaled $207,900. The money went toward paying for Vermont-based infrastructure, like rent in Burlington and office supplies. The committee also spent money on airplane tickets and event planning in Arkansas, Louisiana and California.

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis anticipates that Sanders’ coffers will grow to between $6 million and $7 million by the end of this year.

“Sanders will want to have as big a war chest as possible late this year or early next year to scare off any possible opponent,” he said.

Those figures are “far more than he needs” to defeat potential challengers in Vermont, Davis said. A recent Morning Consult poll found that Sanders is the senator with the highest popularity among constituents, winning approval from 75 percent of Vermonters polled.

The committee behind Sanders’ presidential run reported $5.2 million cash in hand at the end of this period, having collected only a few hundred dollars through the three-month period.

Sanders has not had a strong challenger since he won his seat in 2006 in a close race.

Senate incumbents in contested races in other states have war chests of $3 million to $5 million, according to The Hill, a Washington, D.C., news source. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., for example, has $4.7 million salted away, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has $6.7 million.

FEC rules would allow Sanders to transfer money from his Senate account to his presidential account if he decides to run for the White House again in 2020. He also could tap his presidential campaign funds for the Senate race next year, though he would have to follow various FEC limits on donors.

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