Oz pumps another $2.2 million into campaign as Fetterman thrives on small contributions
Republican candidates in the race for the Senate and for governor of Pennsylvania appear to be hitting a campaign funding slump into the summer, new Federal Election Commission data shows.
The Nov. 8 election is over three months away and the contested races are far from over, but the lull in fundraising could be a problem for Republicans Dr. Mehmet Oz and state Sen. Doug Mastriano.
Julie Roginsky, national democratic strategist, said Monday that Pennsylvania is a difficult political environment for Democrats, even with the strong war chests amassed by Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro thus far in the Senate and governor’s races, respectively.
“It’s still a tough environment for Democrats … and it’s not always the case that the person who raises the most money or spends the most money wins,” Roginsky said in a phone interview.
The Senate race between Fetterman and Oz to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in 2023 is one of several in battleground states that could determine party control in Congress.
Current Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is in his final term this year, and a victory for Mastriano over Shapiro could have far-reaching implications on abortion access, election laws and other issues where the two candidates are diametrically opposed.
Both Democrats have a campaign funding lead in the millions over their GOP opponents right now, and those gains could put Oz and Mastriano at a disadvantage the closer they get to Election Day.
“What you really need to accomplish with (fundraising) is you need to save your money for when voters are paying attention, but the more money you have the earlier you’re making them pay attention,” Roginsky added.
The state of either candidates’ campaign coffers aren’t going to make the outcome of any race a foregone conclusion this early, but Roginsky said the differences in contributions do show an ”enthusiasm gap” that should make any nominee concerned.
“If you look at not just small donors but donors in Pennsylvania, every time somebody gives your campaign $1, you have their vote. And small donors have a level of enthusiasm that translates to votes.
Fetterman thrives, Oz self-funds
Cardiothoracic surgeon and former TV host Oz has raised $19 million over the course of his campaign through June 30, a $4 million increase since the last campaign finance data release through April 27, placing him several million dollars behind Fetterman’s $26 million raised overall.
Not only is Oz trailing behind Fetterman, who saw a $10 million boost since April, he’s also still about $500,000 behind the total raised by former Republican challenger Dave McCormick.
A narrow margin of votes separated Oz and McCormick following the May 17 primary, prompting a statewide recount into early June that ended with Oz eking out a 1,161-vote lead over McCormick.
The recount cost Oz at least $234,106 to fight, according to FEC campaign expense data between May and June.
Roughly $2.2 million of Oz’s campaign contributions since April 27 have been loaned from the candidate himself in a $1.3 million loan on April 28, a $400,000 loan on May 3 and a $500,000 loan on June 29.
Since the May 17 primary, Oz’s campaign has averaged about $19,616 per day from individual contributions, not counting his own loans.
Fetterman’s campaign funding has thrived despite being slowed by a stroke the state’s lieutenant governor suffered on May 13.
Since the start of his campaign, Fetterman has managed to raise about $26 million. That’s about $10 million more than the FEC posted totals for Fetterman’s campaign through late April.
About half of Fetterman’s contributions since the last filing period were in individual donations, which currently make up about $17.8 million of his campaign’s overall total.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and putting abortion access back to the individual states appears to have led to a small boost for Fetterman last month.
Fetterman’s campaign received about $202,454 the day the court’s ruling came out, one of a handful of six-figure days since May 18, which currently ranks first for most donations in a single day after the primary at $452,735.
On June 24, Oz’s campaign received about $1,000 in individual contributions and May 18 is the third highest day in Oz’s campaign with $88,494.
Larger donations in Senate race still coming from out of state
A review of FEC data following the April 27 release showed that roughly 38% of the funds raised by seven candidates who had raised over $1 million was coming from outside of Pennsylvania.
That percentage still holds true for individual donations received by Fetterman and Oz, with contributions from the commonwealth totaling about $5.8 million out of nearly $14.2 million the two have collectively raised throughout their campaigns.
The state-level data available through the FEC website is only available for itemized contributions, campaign donations over $200 from a single person in an election cycle.
About $1.36 million in itemized contributions to Fetterman’s campaign since the primary have come from Pennsylvania, about 37% of the roughly $3.6 million of all contributions over that time.
About half of Oz’s $863,111 raised since the primary have been evenly split between Floridians and Pennsylvanians, with Florida having just a $1,000 lead over Pennsylvania contributions.
Californians raised the second highest amount for Fetterman since the primary, about $523,000 or 14% of contributions after the primary.
New York contributed about 8% and 9% to Fetterman’s and Oz’s campaigns, respectively, in recent months.
Shapiro has massive funding lead over Mastriano
Pennsylvania Department of State campaign finance data through June 6 show Mastriano has seen new campaign contributions in 2022 drop each reporting cycle, raising just $726,495 so far this year.
Mastriano raised about $372,554 between Jan. 1 and March 28; $191,845 between March 29 and May 2; and $162,095 between May 3 and June 6, according to the state’s campaign data.
Conversely, Shapiro, currently Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, has managed to raise about $12.1 million this year. About $4.5 million near the start of the year; $2.9 million through April; and $4.66 million between May and June.
Mastriano’s campaign has seen its share of controversy this election year as establishment Republicans have been distancing themselves from the far-right candidate.
Mastriano has long been a supporter of unproven claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. As chair of the Senate Majority Policy Committee, he held a hearing in Gettysburg that November that saw Rudy Giuliani, poll watchers and a phone call from former President Donald Trump espousing claims of irregularities in the election. Mastriano has also championed legislation to restrict abortion access in Pennsylvania, often without exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Fearing Mastriano couldn’t attract moderate voters in November, a groundswell of opposition from within his own party began just before the primary as elected officials and GOP leaders led an all-out effort pushing support behind former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, Mastriano’s closest adversary in the polls.
There were more than 100 endorsements from current and former members of Congress, state senators, county commissioners and other offices to keep Mastriano from taking the ballot spot.
Mastriano took nearly 44% of the roughly 1.35 million votes cast in his primary race, the other 54% spread across eight other candidates showing a clearly fractured GOP electorate.
GOP leaders back Shapiro over Mastriano:9 Pennsylvania GOP leaders back Shapiro over Mastriano in race for governor
Earlier this month, nine Republican leaders from across Pennsylvania endorsed Shapiro for governor, saying Mastriano is an extreme candidate who would undermine democracy.
Despite Shapiro’s multi-million-dollar lead on Mastriano, recent polls have put Shapiro at only a slight lead over his opponent.
A USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll in Pennsylvania released on June 17 had Fetterman with a 9-point lead over Oz in his race but put Shapiro at just 4-point advantage over Mastriano.
Another poll commissioned by the AARP in June put Shapiro at just a 3-point lead among all likely voters and just a single point over Mastriano among voters 55 and older.
Roginsky said she doesn’t put much stock in polls right now as she believes they tend to underestimate staunch Trump supporters, a demographic that will play a major role in Mastriano’s showing at the ballot box.
Roginsky added that right now Pennsylvanians are voting with their dollars and campaign data suggests they are leaning left.