Politics & Government

Mitch McConnell raises $2.27 million in third quarter

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Herald-Leader

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to amass an overwhelming war chest as he heads into what promises to be a bruising reelection battle next year.

McConnell raised $2.27 million in the third quarter, his campaign said on Friday. The senator has raised a total of $17.7 million for the cycle.

According to the campaign, McConnell will report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that he has just less than $10 million cash on hand, reflecting the infrastructure he is building and the significant amount he has put into unceremoniously welcoming his opponents into the race.

The quarter ended on Sept. 30, and candidates are required to file their reports to the FEC by Oct. 15. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes had not released numbers as of Friday afternoon.

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, McConnell's challenger in the primary, released totals Friday showing $222,000 in contributions, plus a $600,000 personal loan to his campaign. Bevin said his first fundraising report will be nearly on par with initial contributions received by tea party Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who won election in 2010. In a news release, Bevin reported more than 2,000 donors with an average contribution of $111 per donor.

"I am extremely encouraged by the support we have received at every turn in the last couple months, and am excited to see our momentum growing," Bevin said in a statement.

"I am thankful for those across Kentucky and the country who have decided to 'join the fringe' and have so generously given to our efforts."

The McConnell campaign said that its report represents the senator's strongest fundraising quarter to date, much of it from small donations.

About 6,000 "unique" donors contributed with an average donation of $50, the campaign said.

"Sen. McConnell enjoys broad support from Kentuckians and Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life who appreciate his hard work and principled conservative leadership" campaign manage Jesse Benton said. "We are running a presidential-level campaign designed to withstand the millions of dollars in attack ads coming from out-of-state groups and deliver Sen. McConnell's message directly to Kentucky voters."

With McConnell and Bevin reporting, all eyes are now on Grimes and what she was able to raise during her first quarter as an announced candidate.

Both the McConnell and Grimes campaign spent the latter part of the week trying to raise and lower expectations, respectively, for Grimes. And her campaign's efforts were greatly undermined by the repeated boasts of Dreamworks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg, who claimed to raise $1 million for Grimes during a fundraising trip to Los Angeles.

Grimes senior adviser Jonathan Hurst had this to say about McConnell's fundraising: "As the most unpopular Washington politician in the country, Senator McConnell is clearly more worried about the money in his campaign war chest than the U.S. Treasury. Rather than leading and negotiating to get our government back open, McConnell is focused on fundraising and begging the Supreme Court for unlimited million dollar checks. It is no wonder he has had to spend an exorbitant amount of money. Unfortunately, his millions will not be enough to distract Kentuckians from his dismal 30-year Washington voting record."

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