WASHINGTON — If it’s Monday ... Russian missile strikes hit the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. ... Trump bets on JD Vance in Ohio Senate. ... Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., warns that Democrats need to do more on delivering the rest of Biden’s agenda or risk losing power in November. ... Democratic strategists play the Blame Game over Build Back Better’s failure. ... President Biden hosts annual White House Easter Egg Roll. ... And remembering Wendy Rieger.
But first: We’ve pored over the latest first quarter FEC reports (Jan. 1 to March 31) so you don’t have to, and here are our top takeaways from the filings that became public over the weekend.
(Note: The totals/averages exclude Senate candidates who raised $50,000 or less, and House candidates who raised $25,000 or less.)
1. Senate Democratic incumbents maintained an enormous cash advantage over GOP opponents:
- The four Senate Democratic incumbents in competitive races (Toss Up/Lean/Likely) via the Cook Political Report — Sens. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. — raised a combined $33.7 million in the first quarter and had a combined $67.6 million on hand.
- Their 14 different GOP challengers raised a combined $18.7 million and had a combined $25.4 million on hand; Herschel Walker in Georgia raised the most of the GOP challengers with a nearly $5.2 million haul for his race against Warnock.
- Incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., got outraised by Democratic challenger Val Demings, $10.1 million to $5.8 million.
- Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., stepped up his fundraising, raking in $5.9 million versus $711,000 in the previous quarter.
2. Deep-pocketed self-funders wrote themselves some big checks:
- At least 11 Senate candidates contributed or loaned their campaigns $500,000 or more in the first quarter.
- Top self-funders: Former hedge-fund manager David McCormick $7 million loan; celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz $5.8 million loan; investment banker Mike Gibbons $5 million loan, $150,000 contribution; energy executive Jim Lamon $5 million loan.
3. House incumbent Democrats hold the advantage in competitive seats:
- Average House Democratic incumbent in the Cook Report’s Toss Up/Lean/Likely races raised $837,000, had $3.4 million on hand.
- Average GOP challenger raised $266,000, had $381,000 on hand.
4. House Republicans have the edge in competitive open seats:
- Average GOP candidate raised $319,000, had $368,000 on hand.
- Average Dem candidate raised $279,000, had $331,000 on hand.
5. Trump-backed primary challengers got outraised again:
- All of the Trump-backed primary challengers facing GOP incumbents were outraised in the first quarter.
- And all but one had less cash on hand than the incumbents (Alex Mooney in WV-2 being the exception).
- On average, a House incumbent facing a Trump-backed challenger raised nearly twice as much as the primary challenger and ended the quarter with more than three times as much cash on hand.
- In Wyoming At-Large, Liz Cheney outraised her Trump-endorsed primary opponent, Harriet Hageman, $2.9 million to $1.3 million.
Tweet of the day
Midterm roundup: Trump bets on JD Vance in Ohio Senate
A Good Friday announcement may not necessarily be the best way to maximize exposure, but former President Trump’s decision to endorse author J.D. Vance late Friday afternoon shook up another crowded GOP primary.
The news came one day after NBC reported Trump had decided to endorse but had been facing pressure from others to hold off.
Just weeks from the May 3 primary, Vance now has a major selling point for GOP voters who may be on the fence. But his opponents aren’t backing down, and some are still emphasizing Vance’s past critiques of Trump and Trump supporters.
The big picture: After a slew of safe endorsements, Trump is stepping out onto the ledge with endorsements in crowded primaries, with several coming up in May. Wins in races like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina would help Trump keep hold on the power he has among Republicans, but the former president is taking risks that could hurt how he’s perceived if his candidates lose.
Elsewhere on the campaign trail:
North Carolina Senate: WRAL reports on how GOP Rep. Ted Budd, who’s running with Trump’s blessing, continues to avoid debating his top primary rival, former Gov. Pat McCrory.
Iowa Senate: Democratic Senate hopeful Abby Finkenauer will remain on the ballot, thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling regarding her nominating petition signatures.
Oklahoma Senate: Former EPA head Scott Pruitt, who resigned amid multiple ethics scandals, is running for Senate.
Florida Governor: Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist for governor in Florida, Politico reported. Crist faces Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Sen. Annette Taddeo in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Georgia Governor: A federal judge ruled against Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams’ challenge to the state’s campaign finance laws.
Ohio 11: Democratic Majority for Israel PAC is up with a new spot touting Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown’s first few months in Congress weeks ahead of her primary rematch against Democrat Nina Turner. DMFI was a big Brown ally during Brown’s special election victory over Turner last year.
Data Download: The number of the day is … $1.6 million
That’s how much money Vance had in the bank as of March 31, as he hopes to close the deal with Trump’s backing, per the latest round of FEC filings.
It’s no small sum, especially if the Trump endorsement sparks a late rush in donations. But Vance relied primarily on his own personal wealth last quarter (two-thirds of his first-quarter haul came from a $600,000 personal loan), and he’s running in a field where his deep-pocketed opponents can spend big, too.
Vance also lagged behind most of the GOP field in cash-on-hand. State Sen. Matt Dolan and investment banker Mike Gibbons, who have largely self-funded their campaigns, had nearly $4.6 and $3.3 million on hand, respectively. Former state Treasurer Josh Mandel had $2.8 million in his campaign account, while former state GOP chairwoman Jane Timken had $1.4 million.
Other numbers you need to know today:
$141 million: That’s how much the GOP-aligned Senate Leadership Fund is booking in fall advertising time as it looks to flip the Senate, per Politico, focusing on offensive opportunities in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, as well as playing defense in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
7: At least how many people Ukraine officials say were killed in Russian strikes on Lviv Monday.
27: The number of states where avian flu has been spotted. The illness among chickens and turkeys has prompted a spike in egg prices.
80,832,900: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials.
Ad watch: Tim Ryan’s campaign test
Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan is taking the moderate lane in his bid to be the state’s next senator. In a new ad, the congressman talks about his plan to tackle inflation and tells voters, “both parties need to stop wasting time on stupid fights.”
He adds, “We can't afford to be Democrats and Republicans. Right now, we have to be Americans first.”
Ryan faced criticism from some fellow Democrats for evoking Republican messaging in a previous ad, where he blamed China for problems facing Americans. Some Asian-American groups also called for Ryan to take down the ad, saying it promotes anti-Asian hate.
ICYMI: What else is happening in the world
As the Jan. 6 committee readies for public hearings, lawmakers are worried that the aftermath of the 2020 election could provide a future path for overturning an election
NBC News reported late last week that White House climate advisor Gina McCarthy is expected to step down in May.
The New York Times looks at how President Trump has used his power over the GOP like a “modern-day party boss.”
InfoWars is filing for bankruptcy — its founder, Alex Jones, had been found liable for damages related to his false claim the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax.