But they will face a well-funded opposition: In a sign of momentum for the political party out of power, major Republican groups working to win back the House and Senate started the year with cash advantages over their Democratic counterparts.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and two outside groups affiliated with GOP leadership in both chambers entered the election year with a combined $220 million in cash reserves.
By comparison, the equivalent organizations working to elect Democrats had about $176 million in their bank accounts, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission. Fourth quarter reports covering the last three months of 2021 were due Monday.
Here’s a look at the money race for the Senate and other key takeaways from new filings:
Democratic incumbents who face tough Senate fights this year are sitting on hefty cash balances.
In Arizona, for instance, Sen. Mark Kelly raised $8.9 million in the fourth quarter, which ended December 31, and had more than $18.6 million in cash on hand.
He’s far ahead of the crowded field of Republicans vying to take him on. Solar energy entrepreneur Jim Lamon loaned his campaign $3 million in fourth quarter and had nearly $6 million in available cash. Blake Masters, a venture capitalist, raised just shy of $1.6 million and started the year with $1.8 million in the bank.
In Georgia, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock had almost $23 million on hand — more than four times the cash reserves of the leading Republican in the race, former football star Herschel Walker.
And in another key battleground state, Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto raised more than $3.3 million in the fourth quarter and had more than $10 million in cash on hand. Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the highest-profile Republican in the race, started the year with about $1.7 million stockpiled for the fights ahead.
A challenger raises big sums
In Florida’s Senate race, Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings brought in nearly $7.2 million during the fourth quarter, surpassing the $5.2 million raised by two-term Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
A greater share of Demings’ contributions came from donations of $200 or less, giving her a potential pool of donors to keep tapping for campaign funds in the months ahead. Rubio started the year with a bigger war chest of available cash: $10.6 million to Demings’ $8.2 million.
Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney outraised her Donald Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman by more than $1.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to their filings.
Cheney raised more than $2 million, while Hageman brought in $443,000.
Hageman, a former Republican National Committeewoman from Wyoming, launched her bid in September and raised more than $745,000 in total through December 31. But Cheney hauled in more than $7 million last year and ended the quarter with $4.7 million in the bank, her filing shows.
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for inciting the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, sparking a backlash in Wyoming, where nearly 70% of voters supported the former President in 2020.
Some Republicans, however, want to turn the page on Trump and have helped her campaign build a massive war chest.
Former President George W. Bush was among Cheney’s contributors in the fourth quarter, filings show. The former President donated $5,800, the maximum he could give to her primary and general election campaigns.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump in the impeachment trial last year, is slated to headline a fundraiser for Cheney in March.
Among those serving as hosts for the Virginia event are prominent figures associated with the Bush administration, including her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Lone GOP senator
Bush also donated to the campaign of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski — the only Republican senator facing reelection who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial.
Murkowski raised more than $1.3 million in the fourth quarter and entered 2022 with about $4.2 million in cash on hand.
That’s more than twice the nearly $602,000 collected during the same period by her Trump-backed primary challenger Kelly Tshibaka.
Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, started the year with almost $634,000 in cash reserves.
Trump’s endorsement did not help another candidate raise big bucks.
In the Alabama Senate race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, the former President’s pick, Rep. Mo Brooks, raised less than $400,000, while another GOP candidate, Katie Britt, raised over $1.2 million.
Britt, who worked for Shelby and later led the Business Council of Alabama, has coalesced much of the business community behind her campaign. Another Republican Senate hopeful, Mike Durant, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot shot down in Somalia in 1993, entered the race in October and donated over $4 million to his campaign.
Manchin and Sinema raise hefty sums for 2024 races
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — moderate Democrats who have bucked their party on major issues in the past year — each posted strong fundraising numbers in the fourth quarter.
Neither faces reelection until 2024.
Sinema raised nearly $1.6 million during the last three months of 2021, her highest fundraising total of the year. She also received more money from political action committees in the fourth quarter than she did in any other quarter last year.
Manchin, meanwhile, raised more than $1.5 million for his campaign during the last three months of the year and took in more than $300,000 in donations from PACs. He also drew year-end donations from a prominent Republican.
Billionaire Ken Langone and his wife, Elaine, maxed out on donations to Manchin’s campaign committee and to his leadership PAC — contributing more than $21,000 in total on December 31.
Langone publicly praised Manchin last November for his opposition to key elements of President Joe Biden’s social safety net and climate bill, known as the Bill Back Better plan. During an interview on CNBC, Langone hailed Manchin’s “guts and courage” and pledged to raise money on his behalf.
Manchin, who has made millions from his coal interests, has resisted the measure’s climate provisions, saying they could impact the nation’s power grid. And he has worried about the massive plan’s impact on soaring inflation and the nation’s rising debt.
Return of the big spender
Billionaire financier George Soros broke into national politics in 2004 when he spent millions on a failed bid to deny Bush a second term as president.
The new filings indicate that Soros is prepared to make a big impact ahead of the midterm elections in what could be a boon for Democratic groups. He donated $125 million to his Democracy PAC in September, according to a report the super PAC filed Monday with the FEC.
Soros’ donation is helping fuel investments into super PACs working to preserve the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
The Soros super PAC also donated $500,000 to the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State in December.
That group has seen record donations this year amid heightened interest in who administers elections. Trump has endorsed candidates running for secretary of state positions in three battleground states he lost in 2020: Michigan, Arizona and Georgia.