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Rosen, House Democrats keep war chest lead; self-funding GOP candidates narrow gap

Several Republicans made six-figure donations to their own campaigns, with minimal outside support.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Campaign FinanceCongressElection 2024Elections

Though Nevada’s congressional Democrats have maintained their cash advantages through the first quarter of 2024, many Republican challengers are attempting to close the gap through six-figure loans to themselves that make up the bulk of their hauls.

Monday marked the deadline for congressional candidates to submit their quarterly fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission for the first three months of 2024, the last full quarter before the June 11 primaries.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) again proved the state’s most prolific fundraiser, raising a whopping $5 million and accumulating a war chest of $13.2 million — much of which has poured into ad reservations to be on the airwaves from late July through the general election in November.

Meanwhile, in the competitive Republican primary to take on Rosen, former Ambassador to Iceland Jeff Gunter technically reported the biggest quarterly haul of $2.87 million. However, $2.7 million of that came via a loan from Gunter himself, meaning front-runner Sam Brown, a veteran backed by national Republicans, dominated the GOP field in terms of contributions, posting a $2.4 million quarter — his best yet.

And in the House, where the three Las Vegas-based Democrats are running for re-election in competitive seats, six self-funded Republicans across the districts have loaned their campaigns hundreds of thousands of dollars to attempt to narrow the playing field.

Candidates’ loans from themselves do not need to be fully expended.

Brown dominating Senate GOP field

Brown’s $2.4 million fundraising quarter is leagues ahead of the rest of the GOP field and a significant improvement on where former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the Republican Senate nominee in 2022, stood at this point last cycle when he reported raising $1.6 million.

Other GOP candidates had comparably lackluster quarters.  Gunter — whom surrogates have been pitching to Donald Trump as a Brown alternative — raised about $145,000 this quarter. 

But the cash on hand battle is a different story because Gunter has the ability to self-fund. Buoyed by the $2.7 million loaned to his campaign, the former ambassador has $2.9 million in cash on hand compared to Brown’s $2.4 million. Gunter’s self-funding has allowed him to begin airing television ads — the first Senate Republican candidate to do so.

Brown also spent much more than Gunter in the first quarter — $1.8 million to about $330,000 — on travel, direct mail and fundraising services, salaries and consulting, and other expenses. 

The majority of Gunter’s campaign spending was repaying himself $195,000 from a prior loan to the campaign — a similar type of transaction to the one at the heart of Gunter’s attacks on Brown over using PAC funds to repay campaign debt from his 2022 run.

Outside of Brown and Gunter, no other candidates reported raising more than six figures in the quarter. Air Force veteran Tony Grady pulled in nearly $69,000, while former Assembly member and secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant raised $49,000.

But it all pales in comparison to Rosen’s record-breaking quarter. She more than doubled what Brown raised and received money from over 6,000 unique donors. She also benefited from the strength of Democratic digital fundraising platform ActBlue, pulling in more than $1.4 million aggregated through the platform, which has powered Democratic fundraising strength since the Trump era by allowing easy processing for small donations and Democratic campaign coordination.

Rosen and Brown once again had the most geographically diverse donor base.

The incumbent had unique donors from all 50 states — just as she did in the fourth quarter of 2023 — with the most donors once again coming from California and Nevada. This quarter, there were more than 1,200 unique California donors (giving more than $530,000 combined) and 900 unique Nevada donors (bringing in more than $240,000 combined).

Meanwhile, Brown had donors from 49 states (all except Rhode Island). Nevada led the way with 424 unique donors who combined gave nearly $300,000. Brown is leaning more heavily on big-dollar donors, given that he raised more money from Nevada than Rosen with fewer than half the number of donors.

Gunter also had donors from 38 states — an increase of 16 from last cycle — but only had 13 unique donors in Nevada, the same number as Marchant.

These numbers do not include donations from popular fundraising platforms ActBlue or WinRed, and are based only on itemized donations — generally those of $200 or more — for which the federal government requires more reporting about the donor's identity.

House Republican self-funders

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) has consistently been the best-funded House candidate in Nevada this cycle, and this quarter was no exception — Lee raised more than $850,000, which her campaign says is a Nevada first-quarter record among House candidates.

On the Republican side in Congressional District 3, former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz and video game music composer Marty O’Donnell reported loaning their campaigns hundreds of thousands of dollars to compete with Lee’s cash advantage.

Outside of the loans, Schwartz raised $18,000 and O’Donnell raised nearly $24,000. But the two Republicans lended their own campaigns $800,000 and $500,000, respectively, leveling the playing field with Lee.

Candidates Drew Johnson, a tax analyst, and Elizabeth Helgelien, a former state senator, raised about $36,000 each, though Johnson also loaned his campaign $200,000.

Lee — a prolific fundraiser who has significantly outraised the average House candidate — maintains a large cash on hand advantage. The three-term congresswoman has nearly $2.2 million in her war chest — more than double that of Schwartz, who has nearly $725,000, and four times as much as O’Donnell, with about $477,000.

In Congressional District 4, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) lost his long-standing fundraising advantage after one of his opponents made a $500,000 loan to his own campaign, but the incumbent still maintains a significant lead in cash on hand. 

Horsford brought in more than $560,000 in the first quarter, about $50,000 less than the total raised by Republican John Lee, the former mayor of North Las Vegas, whose half a million dollar loan brought his quarterly haul to more than $615,000. Still, Horsford has more than $1.6 million in cash on hand — $1 million more than Lee.

Air Force veteran David Flippo, who is running against Lee in the GOP primary, brought in just $14,000, on top of a $125,000 campaign loan from himself. He has around $290,000 in cash on hand.

Lee and Horsford, whose races are among the handful considered competitive enough to determine control of the House, both rank in the top 70 for House fundraising thus far this cycle, out of more than 2,500 candidates.

And in Congressional District 1, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) bested her opponents in fundraising this quarter for the first time since the second quarter of 2023.

Titus raised about $425,000, beating out GOP opponent and restaurateur Flemming Larsen, who raised about $278,000 (of which $250,000 was a loan). Mark Robertson, who was the GOP nominee in the district last cycle, raised nearly $20,000.

Larsen has about $1.5 million in the bank — though most of it is in the form of loans — to Titus’ cash on hand total of nearly $983,000.

All three House Democrats have benefited from outside groups spending heavily to defend the seats. Once Republican nominees are decided, outside groups aligned with House Republican leaders will also likely swoop in and drop millions of dollars to boost their candidates in Las Vegas.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), the lone Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, is facing an independent challenge from Greg Kidd, an Incline Village-based entrepreneur.

Amodei raised $117,000 in the first quarter and has $440,000 in cash on hand. Kidd’s $500,000 haul came exclusively from a loan from himself, and he has $415,000 cash on hand.


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