Why George Sinner's Anemic Fundraising Report Was Devastating For His Campaign


chart_5Earlier this week we got some fundraising data for the US House race here in North Dakota between Republican incumbent Kevin Cramer and Demcorat challenger George Sinner.

The numbers were awful for Sinner. After months of delays, breaking is own deadlines to announce a campaign, Sinner is now sitting with less than $40,000 in his campaign and just a little more than six months left to go until election day. Cramer, on the other hand, has over $500,000 in cash on hand, twice what he had at this point in his successful 2012 campaign.

North Dakota Democrats, though, claim they’re “not concerned” with Sinner’s fundraising.

Chad Oban, executive director of the state Democratic-NPL Party, noted Cramer’s fundraising advantage as an incumbent, but said the party is pleased with the money Sinner raised in a two-week span.

“He has proved he has the ability to raise money” while also setting up a campaign, Oban said. “We’re not concerned about Senator Sinner being able to make up that gap.”

That’s a laugh-worthy line. Of course Democrats are concerned about their candidate having less than $40,000 in cash on hand six months before election day. Especially when their candidate from last cycle had over $400,000 in cash on hand by this point.

This matters, because nationally Democrats are in triage mode. They’re facing an uphill climb in the midterms, and according to this Politico report, they’re only looking to fund the “most promising” candidates.

House Democrats, battered by Koch brothers ads and facing a grim outlook for the midterms, are providing the clearest indication yet of how they plan to respond: By shoring up imperiled incumbents and only the most promising challengers, but most likely leaving some of the party’s upstart hopefuls to fend for themselves.

The aim of the strategy, detailed in nearly two dozen interviews with party officials and strategists, is a tacit acknowledgement of the ominous political environment Democrats are up against this year. The goal is to stop Republicans from padding their 17-seat edge and keep the party within striking distance of the majority in 2016, a presidential election year that could well be more favorable to Democrats.

Here’s a question I suspect North Dakota Democrats don’t want an honest answer to: Is George Sinner, who backed into this House race after months of delays then put up abysmal fundraising numbers in his first report, really anyone’s idea of a “promising challenger?”

Democrats will say “yes” publicly. Privately, they’re not nearly so certain.

Keep in mind, North Dakota Democrats are very dependent on political money from outside the state. The key to getting that money, though, is having a credible candidate. In 2012, Heitkamp was a credible candidate and benefitted millions in donations and outside spending from sources like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s PAC.

It’s hard to imagine Sinner getting that same level of support.