Incumbent congressmen outraise, outspend the competition

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Mississippi’s four incumbent U.S. House candidates collectively raised and spent more than $3 million so far this election, and that figure is expected to rise exponentially as campaigns kick into high gear.
According a Daily Journal analysis of campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, 1st District U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., earned the most among his currently serving peers with a full third – $1,008,044 – of the total contributions to incumbents.
Republican Gregg Harper of District 3 earned the least with $555,046 in contributions since the start of the election cycle. Democrat Bennie Thompson of District 2 and Republican Steven Palazzo of District 4 split the rest almost evenly.
But Thompson thus far has spent the most of the four incumbents – a whopping 40 percent of the combined $3.3 million total. The state’s sole Democratic congressman also has the most cash on hand as of the end of March, with more than $1.2 million in the bank.
Now serving his 11th consecutive term, Thompson – whose district encompasses most of the Delta and portions of Hinds County – has amassed a healthy cash reserve from nearly two decades of nonstop fundraising.
Mississippi’s Republican House members have less tenure: Harper’s in his second term; Nunnelee and Palazzo in their first. And their fund balances reflect it. The three ended the reporting period with an average of $250,000 each in the bank – about a fifth of Thompson’s cash reserve.
Nunnelee, though, came in second place with campaign spending at just under $1 million. That’s about double what Palazzo spent and a third more than Harper.
Together, the incumbents raised and spent six times more than their primary opponents combined. And all of them easily won last month’s primary elections.
They’ll face a new slate of challengers in November, and their campaigns will ramp up fundraising and publicity efforts in the months leading up to the general election.
Nationwide, the average U.S. House candidate raises more than $1.4 million to win a race, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com

Read more on the numbers in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.