WASHINGTON — Democrat Ron Barber had $390,000 on hand for the remaining two weeks of the campaign to succeed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, compared to $83,000 for Republican Jesse Kelly, according to new campaign reports.
In reports filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission, Barber reported raising $640,000 from March 29 thru May 23, bringing his total fundraising for the special election in District 8 to just under $1.2 million.
Kelly’s campaign reported raising $455,000 in the same period, bringing his total for the election to more than $663,000.
Spending for the two campaigns was closer: $803,000 for Barber to $711,000 for Kelly so far.
But the candidates’ financial accounts tell only part of the story in the hotly contested 8th District race, where national groups have poured in almost as much money as the candidates themselves. And much of that money is going to opposition campaigning.
The Arizona Republican Party and the National Republican Campaign Committee have donated heavily, with some of their purchases supporting Kelly but most opposing Barber. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent on ads opposing Kelly, but nothing directly in support of Barber.
The two candidates, along with Green Party candidate Charles Manolakis, are scheduled to face off June 12 in a special election to finish out the rest of Gifford’s term. She resigned on Jan. 25, 2012 to focus on her recovery from wounds suffered in a Jan. 8, 2011, attack by a gunman outside a Tucson grocery, which killed six and injured 13.
Barber was a longtime aide to Giffords, a Democrat. Kelly narrowly lost to Giffords in the 2010 election.
A Kelly spokesman pointed to Barber’s Washington ties as the reason behind the Democrat’s fundraising lead.
“We’re not surprised by Ron Barber’s numbers,” said spokesman John Ellinwood.
But Barber aides point to the fact that almost 80 percent of his donations in the most recent round came from individual donors, not political-action committees and the like.
Jessica Schultz, a Barber spokeswoman, said the campaign has received more than 9,000 donations from individuals giving an average of less than $200.
Kelly also took in most of his money, about 62 percent, from smaller, individual contributors.
Schultz said the Barber campaign would likely spend down its available funds in the days remaining before the June 12 election.
Kelly’s campaign did not discuss spending strategy for the remaining days, but both camps said they have active volunteer operations that are going door-to-door and working hard as the election nears.
Manolakis said he has raised less than the $5,000 that would require an FEC filing, but added with a chuckle, “I’m trying to take the money out of campaigning.”
He said he is talking to a lot of people and has been going to as many Occupy Wall Street events as he can. He is not a member of the group, but said he does support its goals.
Whoever wins the election will have only a short breather before he has to turn around and start campaigning for the next full term — in a redrawn district that is significantly different than the one they’re running in now.
The primary election in that race is Aug. 28 and the general is in November.