WASHINGTON — Sen. Kay Hagan’s campaign took in $3.6 million in the second quarter of this year, a large haul for a three-month period but not a particularly surprising one in a race that’s expected to be one of the most expensive in the nation.
The contributions leave her campaign with $8.7 million in cash on hand. The Democratic senator’s campaign released only its top numbers on Thursday, ahead of the Tuesday filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission.
Her Republican opponent, House Speaker Thom Tillis, hasn’t released his contribution totals for the period yet.
More details about the sources of the contributions and how the campaigns are spending their money won’t be available until after the FEC makes them public.
Both Hagan and Tillis have been busy fundraising. Even so, outside groups are spending more than the candidates are. The money spent by the outside groups mostly doesn’t have to be reported to the federal campaign finance watchdog, because non-profit groups that run “issue ads” that don’t explicitly call for people to vote for or against a candidate aren’t required to report the amounts spent on them until 60 days before the election.
Still, media trackers for both parties keep track of outside group spending from TV ad buy contracts.
Republicans say outside groups have spent $11.1 million so far against the Tillis campaign. Some of the bigger spenders include League of Conservation Voters, $845,000; Patriot Majority, $841,323; the Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC,, $6.6 million; the Southern Alliance For Clean Energy, $1 million; and Emily’s List, $709,080.
Democrats estimate outside groups have spent $18 million against Hagan through July. That includes $8.9 million from the conservative Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the industrialist Koch brothers; $3.6 million from Crossroads GPS; $1.6 million from American Crossroads, $835,000 from Generation Opportunity; $860,000 from the conservative-leaning 60 Plus Association; and $900,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The outside money largely has been used for negative ads.
“I would not be surprised if the candidates used the strategy of selling themselves and let the surrogates do the attacks,” said Michael Bitzer, a political expert and professor at Catawba College.
Both candidates will likely raise large sums of money, but “I have the feeling it’s going to be dwarfed by the outside money,” he said.
“This has all the markings of being a very, very expensive if not the most expensive race in the country,” said Andrew Taylor, a professor of political science at North Carolina State University.
North Carolina is one of a handful of highly competitive Senate races that will help determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. Among those states, it’s one of the largest in terms of population, so candidates have to reach out to more voters, he said.
“Kay’s record-setting, second-quarter fundraising total is a reflection of the enthusiasm and momentum behind her campaign,” said Chris Hayden, Hagan Campaign spokesman. “These funds will ensure that the campaign can reach voters from Murphy to Manteo to talk about Kay’s bipartisan and commonsense record of results for North Carolina’s middle class families.”
Both candidates are fundraising.
Tillis missed state legislative sessions Wednesday and part of Thursday before July 4th, partly for a fundraiser. Hagan reportedly will benefit from a fundraiser in Hickory at the home of Mitchell Gold, the furniture maker.
Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer contributed to this report.