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Donnelly leads in fundraising as Senate race heats up

July 17, 2017

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana is holding strong against would-be challengers when it comes to fundraising ahead of what’s sure to be a competitive 2018 race.

Donnelly raised more than $1.3 million in the second quarter of 2017 and has nearly $3.7 million in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Donnelly’s campaign also touted another $145,000 transferred in contributions from joint fundraising committees.

Though neither Republican U.S. Reps. Luke Messer nor Todd Rokita have officially filed to take him on in 2018, they are both expected to enter the Senate race. And they both trail Donnelly in fundraising.

Messer, who has several veteran and establishment GOP heavyweights behind his potential candidacy, raised about $578,000 in the second quarter, bringing his war chest to little over $2 million.

And Rokita raised more than $1 million during the second quarter, from April 1 to June 30, bringing his war chest to about $2.4 million.

Donnelly’s campaign noted the reports give Donnelly a “roughly $1.4 million cash on hand advantage, and that’s poised only to keep growing as Republicans look ahead to a nasty, expensive primary.”

Meanwhile, Rokita’s team has been highlighting its fundraising prowess against Messer on social media. His campaign posted on July 15 about Rokita’s nearly $500,000 fundraising edge against Messer this quarter and wrote “momentum is on our side.”

Donnelly is one of the nation's most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, according to political observers. He came under criticism last week for profiting from a family business that relies on Mexican labor while criticizing other companies for outsourcing jobs.

Messer and Rokita have continued jockeying for the GOP advantage.

Early this year, Messer released a list of 47 names on his 2018 campaign finance committee. GOP heavyweight donor Fred Klipsch said the list wasn’t put out to deter intra-party competition, but “the reality is, the result of all those people should send a message to the other candidates.”

However, Rokita’s team announced his finance committee on Monday, listing 60 people—including oil executive Forrest Lucas—that his team says are “committed to helping to raise the money necessary for a U.S. Senate campaign if Todd Rokita decides to enter the race.”

Rokita's team also pointed out that Messer’s fundraising appears to be somewhat reliant on donations from political action committees, which typically give to incumbents. Once he enters the race, Rokita’s team argues, that money “will dry up."

Greg Pence, chairman of Messer’s finance committee, said Messer “continues to build all the resources he would need to run a strong campaign.”

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