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WASHINGTON -- While Democrats work to recruit strong challengers, members of the all-Republican Arkansas House delegation are stockpiling cash for their own 2020 re-election campaigns.

The campaign of U.S. Rep. French Hill, whose 2nd Congressional District seat includes most of central Arkansas, reported total receipts of $415,974 between April 1 and June 30, according to forms filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.

The former Little Rock banker spent $91,426 during the second quarter, leaving his campaign with $655,925.

Anchored by Democratic-leaning Pulaski County, Democrats have attempted to win back the seat since the departure of U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder in 2011.

Despite strong showings in the state's largest county, however, they have failed to be competitive in the district's other six counties.

Hill, first elected in 2014, won a third term in November, receiving 52.1 percent of the vote. Then-state Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, captured 45.8 percent of the vote; Libertarian Joe Swafford finished with 2 percent.

Thus far, no Democrat has entered the race for 2020.

Incumbent lawmakers in Arkansas' three other congressional districts are also filling their war chests.

That's "not surprising at all," said Brendan Quinn, a spokesman for the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

"According to every indicator, this is going to be the most expensive election cycle in American history," he said.

The campaign of U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, who represents southwest Arkansas, Pine Bluff and a thinly populated slice of Northwest Arkansas, had total receipts of $195,338 during the quarter, according to FEC filings.

The 4th District congressman from Hot Springs spent $71,991, leaving him with $816,056.

A Democrat, Raymond Dallas Redmond Jr. of Rison, also filed the FEC paperwork. He listed contributions of $20 and expenses of $20 during the quarter. Redmond was his campaign's only donor; it finished the quarter without any money.

The campaign of U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, who represents northeast Arkansas plus a string of counties in the Delta and along the Mississippi River down to Chicot County, had total receipts of $147,440 and spent $53,794 during the three-month period.

The 1st District congressman, a resident of Jonesboro, finished with $374,851 cash on hand. No Democrats had filed the paperwork by the July 15 deadline.

The campaign of U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, who represents most of Northwest Arkansas, raised $96,070 and spent $47,452. The former Rogers mayor, who has represented the 3rd District since 2011, reported cash on hand of nearly $1.2 million.

No Democratic filings were posted for the 3rd District.

In the upper chamber, Arkansas' two incumbent Republicans are also raising money.

The campaign of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle reported total receipts of $1,027,852 and total net expenditures of $323,041, leaving it with $3,497,312 cash on hand. In addition, the Cotton for Senate committee had debts and obligations of $77,966 as of June 30.

The only Democrat filing paperwork in the 2020 Senate race, Josh Mahony of Fayetteville, reported total receipts of $110,397.

That includes $25,478 of his own money. After net expenditures of $52,305, Mahony was left with $51,154 cash on hand, his FEC report stated.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman reported total receipts of $80,227 and net operating expenditures of $42,992. The lawmaker from Rogers, who isn't up for re-election until 2022, listed cash on hand of $520,016.

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Michael John Gray said Arkansas Republicans won't go unchallenged in 2020, no matter how much money they raise.

"It's always a daunting task running against incumbents," he said. "Politics these days has become more about putting money in the coffers and less about representing the people."

Republican Party of Arkansas spokesman Stephen Houserman said the fundraising numbers are indicative of the state's current political leanings.

"This is a Republican-voting state," he said. "Not only are people voting at the polls, but they're voting with their wallets."

The Republican fundraising advantage reflects the party's changing fortunes in recent years, according to University of Arkansas political scientist Janine Parry.

"Money goes to incumbents and money goes to likely winners," she said.

In 2019, Arkansas is "not just majority Republican but [is] now uniformly Republican," she added.

Metro on 07/17/2019

Print Headline: State's GOP stocks up for '20; Republicans raise cash while Democrats recruit candidates


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