First-time candidate Democrat Scott Harper has gone toe-to-toe in fundraising this year with established incumbent Republican Congresswoman Judy Biggert in the 13th District. The fundraising picture is largely summarized by grassroots support, special interest PAC money and total receipts.
Democrat Scott Harper as a first-time candidate has done well with small dollar donors, those contributing under $200, which is considered a measure of grassroots support. In the first quarter 2008, Harper brought in $10,203, almost 2-1/2 times the small donor dollars of incumbent Judy Biggert ($4,115) in the same quarter. Today the Harper campaign reported more than doubling last quarter’s small donor contributions, with $21,032.72, almost four times Biggert’s small donor funds ($5,649) for the quarter. Small donors have made up about 10% of the Harper campaign’s contributions in 2008, and over 20% in Harper’s limited 2007 fundraising period.
Special Interest PAC Money
While Scott Harper has dominated small donor dollars, incumbent Judy Biggert has dominated special interest PAC money in the race.
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There is no doubt that both candidates get substantial sums from PACs, but while Harper has reduced the percentage of PAC money he has taken from the first to the second quarter (from 27% to 19% of contributions), Biggert has actually raised her percentage slightly (from 45% to 46%), and it represents close to half of her contributions. Put another way, almost one out of every two dollars Judy Biggert collects comes from special interests. These interests include the disgraced Countrywide mortgage company that the Illinois Attorney General recently brought suit against, accusing it of having “engaged in unfair and deceptive conduct on a large scale in creating, originating, marketing and servicing unnecessarily risky and costly mortgage loans for Illinois homeowners.” Biggert also collected funds from PACs representing insurance, energy, and telecommunications interests.
For the first time Scott Harper has beaten Judy Biggert in total receipts for a quarter. Without his $50,000 loan that put him over the top, Harper brought in $228,193 this quarter to Judy Biggert’s $240,971 – the first-time candidate essentially tying the incumbent’s receipts for the quarter. That’s incredibly impressive – few congressional challengers come anywhere close. Sarah Topy, Campaign Manager for Scott Harper for Congress, said,
“For a challenger to out-raise a five-term incumbent Washington insider speaks to how excited people here are by this race and this campaign…. Scott’s message is resonating with the voters of this district and their support has been extraordinary.”
Democratic first-time candidate Scott Harper has momentum going into the fall against incumbent Congresswoman Judy Biggert. While Biggert has a bigger war chest, Scott has started chipping away at it, and he is raising enough money to wage a competitive campaign against the incumbent. Come November voters in the 13th District will have a real choice. They can vote for first-time candidate Scott Harper who dominates the small donor and individual donor contributions – or they can vote for the established incumbent, who gets almost half her money from special interests and most of the other half from large donors. With Scott Harper and Judy Biggert it’s the people vs. the PACs. The money may be getting close – but who you should vote for isn’t close at all.