Incumbent Mike Pence still has the overall fundraising edge in the Indiana governor’s race, but his opponent, Democrat John Gregg, appears to be catching up.
Gregg overtook Pence in fundraising during the first three months of 2016, according to new campaign finance reports, and is catching up on his overall cash position.
Gregg’s campaign raised about $1.86 million in the first quarter of 2016, while Pence raised $1.53 million. But Gregg has raised $5.6 million during the entire cycle so far, compared with Pence's $11.98 million.
Gregg’s campaign manager, Tim Henderson, called Gregg’s numbers “exceptionally strong … especially for a challenger.”
Gregg ended the quarter with about $5.1 million in cash on hand, which the campaign noted was about three times more than it had in the same period of the 2012 election, when Gregg lost to Pence.
Pence, on the other hand, has $7.65 million in cash on hand.
"We are grateful for the continued support from all four corners of the Hoosier state,” said Pence’s campaign director, Marty Obst. “With nearly $12 million raised for the cycle and over $7.6 million cash on hand, we will have the resources necessary to execute our campaign."
Gregg received 3,251 individual donations in the first quarter, 85 percent of which were $100 or less. Pence had 1,310 contributors, with an average contribution of $1,166.
Henderson said he thinks the momentum in the race is with Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker and former president of Vincennes University.
“While we will never have more money than Republicans in this state, we don’t need it to win,” Henderson said. “We just need to stay close, and that’s what we continue to do. It’s a very good sign for us.”
Pence's poll numbers suffered last year because of a few policy kerfuffles, including his support of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. His approval rating dropped 15 percentage points in a year, to 47 percent, according to a November WISH-TV/Ball State University poll.
Pence has faced a new round of criticism in recent weeks over his signing of a strict new abortion law that drew scorn from some sectors, even pro-life women in his own party. No major polls have been released since that controversy broke out.
Both candidates in the first quarter collected several large contributions. They include:
— $500,000 from the Republican Governors Association Right Direction PAC
— $100,000 from Missouri businessman Rex Sinquefield, an active political donor who supports tax reform and education reform
— $75,000 from new Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s campaign
— $50,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers
— $25,000 from Carmel philanthropist Cindy Simon Skojdt
— $10,000 from former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson’s campaign