Armstrong Has Big Lead Over Schneider in North Dakota House Race, Candidates About Even on in-State Contributions

U.S. House candidates Democrat Mac Schneider, left, and Republican Kelly Armstrong debate on Saturday, May 5, 2018, during the North Dakota Newspaper Association's annual convention at the Radisson Hotel in Bismarck. David Samson / The Forum

Republican state Senator Kelly Armstrong has a strong fundraising lead over former state Senator Mac Schneider in the first report each candidate has filed in North Dakota’s U.S. House race.

Both candidates have been active for about the same amount of time.

Armstrong officially announced his campaign on February 22nd. Schneider announced his on March 6.

Yet during that time Armstrong has been far more successful in raising funds. Here’s his first FEC disclosure, the April Quarterly report. Here is Schneider’s.

Kelly Armstrong: Cycle To Date Campaign Receipts $458,533.48

  • $339,100.00 in individual contributions
  • $0 from party committees
  • $17,750.00 in contributions from other committees (political action committees, etc.)
  • $1,683.48 in contributions from the candidate
  • Armstrong ended the Q1 reporting period with $236,366.79 and $100,000 in debt (a loan from himself to the campaign)

Mac Schneider: Cycle To Date Campaign Receipts $128,298.75

  • $104,798.75 in individual contributions
  • $0 from party committees
  • $23,500.00 in contributions from other committees (political action committees, etc.)
  • Schneider ended the Q1 reporting period with $125,772.81 in cash on hand and $7,615.75 in debt.

That’s a big fundraising advantage for Armstrong, who is widely seen as the favorite in the race. Money is going to matter in this race, because let’s not forget that we have that titanic Senate race between Kevin Cramer and Heidi Heitkamp going on simultaneously. Total combined spending between those two candidates and the various third-party groups supporting and opposing them is going to number in the dozens of millions of dollars.

That’s going to drive up the cost of everything the campaigns need, from advertising to staff.

Schneider needs to raise big money to look like a convincing opponent to Armstrong. If he can’t, it’s hard to see a path to victory for him. You could argue that Schneider could ride in on Heitkamp’s coat tails, but North Dakotans are ballot splitters. Voting for one candidate does not mean they’ll vote for another, as evidenced by Heitkamp and Cramer both winning on the 2012 ballot.

Geographically, the candidates are about even in terms of where the money is coming from:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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