By CRAIG MAUGER
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
LANSING — Candidates hoping to serve Michigan in the U.S. House next year raised a combined $3.4 million from Jan. 1 through March 31, according to newly released campaign finance disclosures.
On top of those fundraising dollars, two candidates combined to loan their campaigns another $1.1 million. Republican Paul Mitchell, a businessman who’s seeking the open 10th District seat, reported loaning his campaign $900,000. And Dr. Anil Kumar, a Democrat who’s running in the 11th District, said he gave his campaign $200,000.
Mitchell, who ran in the 4th House District Republican primary in 2014, is now running in the 10th for the seat currently held by Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Twp.), who isn’t seeking re-election.
Mitchell reported raising $39,905 in the last three months in addition to his $900,000 in loans. For the cycle, Mitchell has reported loaning his campaign $1.6 million — far more than any of his primary opponents have raised so far.
As for those opponents, State Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) reported raising $55,894 in the three-month reporting period, and State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Twp.) reported raising $28,540 in the period, his first period since announcing his candicacy. Pavlov has raised $247,096 since his campaign began.
A fourth GOP candidate, former state lawmaker Alan Sanborn, reported raising just $456 during the last reporting period. For the campaign, he’s raised $48,608.
Outside of the loans, the Northern Michigan 1st District, a seat that’s open this year, pulled in the most fundraising dollars in the most recent reporting period: $561,218. The seat is currently held by Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls), who declined to seek re-election.
Democrats Jerry Cannon and Lon Johnson, former Michigan Democratic Party chair, are running in the 1st along with multiple Republicans, including former State Sen. Jason Allen (R-Traverse City) and State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba).
The 7th District, held by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), attracted $541,558 during the last period. There, State Rep. Gretchen Driskell (R-Saline) is hoping to unseat Walberg. And the 8th District, held by Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), drew $539,596. There, Democrat Melissa Gilbert is hoping to unseat Bishop.
The other district that attracted more than $500,000 was the West Michigan 6th District, where Democrat Paul Clements is taking on Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph).
The following ranking shows the five Michigan congressional candidates who raised the most money between Jan. 1, 2016, and March. 31, 2016 (Note: Mitchell and Kumar’s loans are not included on this list):
1) Fred Upton, Republican, 6th District: Upton reported raising $386,288 in the last reporting period. He’s hoping to once again fend off Clements, who ran last cycle. About $305,000 of Upton’s haul for the quarter came from political action committees.
2) Melissa Gilbert, Democrat, 8th District: Gilbert reported raising $318,901 during the period. Her donor list included movie stars Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Judd Apatow. In fact, Gilbert raised $58,350 from donors listing California addresses.
3) Gretchen Driskell, Democrat, 7th District: Driskell reported raising $315,546 during the period. Of that total, she raised $97,059 from political action committees. Of the major Democratic challengers this year in Michigan, Driskell has raised the most so far at $1.09 million.
4) Lon Johnson, Democrat, 1st District: Johnson reported raising $278,909 during the period. Organized labor stepped up for Johnson. He received $5,000 contributions from the United Auto Workers and the Communication Workers of America, among others.
5) Tim Walberg, Republican, 7th District: Walberg, the incumbent in the 7th District, raised $226,012 during the period. Of Walberg’s haul, he raised $86,750 from PACs. For the cycle, he’s raised $1.16 million, just more than Driskell’s $1.09 million.
* Photos above come from the official government websites of the candidates or their official social media pages. Counter clockwise from top left are Driskell, Allen, Gilbert, Walberg, Johnson and Bishop.