Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester outraised Republican challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg in second quarter of 2011 fundraising.
In reports filed today with the Federal Elections Commission, Tester reported contributions totaling $1,255,948.24 between April 1 and June 30. Rehberg raised $914,656.63 during the same period.
Tester's campaign, Montanans for Tester, has $2,335,139.80 in cash on hand. Rehberg's campaign, Montanan's for Rehberg, reported having $1,500,744.90 in the bank.
Montana's U.S. Senate race is shaping up to be one of the marquee Senate races of the 2012 election, and the early fundraising numbers highlight that, said veteran political observer Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for The Cook Political Report.
"Republicans need four seats to win the majority in the Senate, and this is absolutely one of them," Duffy said. "Both parties are going to fight in Montana like their majorities depend on it."
Both campaign in press releases traded barbs over their opponents' ties to "Wall Street" and "big oil."
|Rehberg’s top sheets here|
|Tester’s top sheets here|
Tester campaign manager, Preston Elliott, said Tester's fundraising numbers show that people are "throwing their support behind this grassroots campaign because they know how effectively Jon represents Montana values in the U.S. Senate — as a Montana farmer who still comes home every weekend."
Rehberg's campaign countered that Tester has "relied heavily on Wall Street banking executives" and "Hollywood elites" to fund his campaign while stating that the majority of Rehberg's individual donors are Montanans.
“Denny’s Made in Montana campaign continues to surge all across Big Sky Country,” said Rehberg campaign manager Erik Iverson. "We’ll probably never out-fundraise Wall Street Jon and his Big Bank money but we don’t need to because Montanans know Denny is right on the issues and always puts Montana first.”
Elliott accused Rehberg's campaign of resulting to "Washington's dirty politics" by getting "big oil and Wall Street special interests" to fund early TV attacks against Tester.
"We about building a powerful grassroots campaign in order to make sure that Montanans know the truth about Jon and his good work," Elliott said.
Tester reported taking-in $946,922.61 in individual contributions and $307,069.51 from political action committees, or PACs. Rehberg received $720,769.13 from individual donors and took-in $192,987.50 in PAC monies. Rehberg also received $700 from political party committees.
Duffy said the second quarter numbers show just how important Montana's U.S. Senate seat is to both parties.
"I think both candidates had really good quarters," Duffy said. "I know that Democrats will make a quite a lot of Tester's cash-on-hand advantage, but the reality is pretty simple: in a race like this that is a huge priority for both parties, there's going to be no money difference. Neither of them are going to have to worry about money."