When a politician leaks information about their campaign finances to the media ahead of actually releasing their legally required report it’s usually because they want the public to focus on one aspect of the report and not others. Once all the journalists are done reporting on the leaked figures the report itself can seem like old news.
That is almost certainly the case with Senator Heidi Heitkamp who hasn’t yet announced her candidacy for 2018 officially but has leaked information on a big fundraising haul in the first quarter of 2017 to the press.
It was definitely a big number. Over $1.6 million, specifically, which by North Dakota standards is a haul.
Now that her actual report is out, though, we can see what Heitkamp probably was hoping would be overlooked.
Specifically, that most of the individuals who contributed to that fundraising haul aren’t from North Dakota.
I posted Heitkamp’s full 2017 April quarterly report on Friday, and I’ve spent the weekend sorting through the 700+ pages of data to get a look at where the money came from. Nearly half of the money came from political committees (like $10,000 so far this cycle from far-left Senator Elizabeth Warren’s PAC).
Most of the rest came from individuals who aren’t from North Dakota. Looking at the itemized individual contributions to Heitkamp’s campaign we can see that just 6.8 percent came from North Dakotans and 93.2 percent came from outside of the state.
While Senator Heitkamp has clearly been working hard on fundraising Congressman Kevin Cramer, who also hasn’t announced his intentions for 2018, hasn’t been. That’s evidenced by just $82,250 in itemized individual contributions to his campaign for this same reporting period. Of that total 18.2 percent was from North Dakotans:
I’m not sure how fair it is to compare Heitkamp and Cramer’s fundraising. Heitkamp is a U.S. Senator who clearly seems intent on running for re-election to her current seat and is fundraising way, way early toward that goal. Cramer is a member of the House who just finished a re-election campaign which wasn’t much of a challenge and hasn’t decided if he’s even running for the Senate yet.
Also it’s April of 2017. When Senator Heitkamp decided to run for her Senate seat in the 2012 cycle she didn’t even officially announce her campaign and begin fundraising until November of 2011.
Cramer, if he decides to run, will have plenty of time to raise millions for his campaign as he has in the past. This election probably isn’t going to hinge on who has the most money to spend. Both candidates, assuming they both run for the Senate next year, will have plenty of money for North Dakota’s very, very small media market.
But the fact that Heitkamp’s big fundraising effort, which was aimed at sending a message about her intentions for the 2018 cycle, came mostly from out of state contributors is telling.
It tells us that while their may be a groundswell behind Heitkamp’s re-election, so far it’s mostly coming from people who won’t actually be able to vote for her.
You can see Heitkamp’s report in full below, and Cramer’s report right here.