Congressional Candidates Opened Their Own Wallets $1-Million Wide For Their Campaigns Last Quarter

New Campaign Finance Reports Show 10th District Republican Paul Mitchell Leading The Way In Giving To His Own Campaign, Spending

Michigan Campaign Finance Network

Michigan candidates for Congress dug deep into their own pockets in the last months to support their campaigns, according to new disclosures that were due on Friday.

Combined, Republicans running in contested primaries in the 1st and 10th districts loaned or gave their campaigns more than $1 million from April 1 through June 30.

But no one has helped himself out more than Republican Paul Mitchell, of Washington, who’s running in the open 10th District. Between April 1 and June 30, Mitchell loaned his campaign $700,000. For the entire cycle, the former businessman has given himself a total of $2.73 million — most of it in the form of loans.

That’s about 96 percent of the $2.83 million Mitchell’s campaign has brought in since it began. And it’s more than four times the combined fundraising total of the other four Republicans and one Democrat running in the 10th District. Combined, the other candidates raised about $614,907 for the cycle as of June 30.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Twp.) currently represents the 10th District but decided against running for re-election.

Mitchell raised a total of $706,031 in the most recent fundraising quarter. Of that $700,000 came in the form of loans to himself. His campaign, which has been airing broadcast TV ads for weeks now, reported spending about $1.07 million on various forms of advertising in the last quarter.

Last election cycle, in 2014, Mitchell, the former CEO of Ross Education, ran in the open 4th Congressional District, losing in the GOP primary. That time around, he gave or loaned his campaign about $3.56 million. But Mitchell isn’t the only candidate in Michigan in 2016 making large contributions to his own candidacy.

In fact, all four of the Republicans running against Mitchell have loaned money to their own campaigns. Mitchell has just done it on a much larger scale.

Outside of Mitchell, State Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) has raised the most money in the 10th District. Pavlov raised $115,146 in the last quarter for a total of $362,742 for the cycle.

He loaned his own campaign $30,000 on June 29. He’s also received financial help from three members of the powerful DeVos family, who chipped in $8,100.

Republican David VanAssche, an Air Force veteran from Shelby Twp., loaned his campaign $95,000 during the last quarter. His campaign raised a total of $110,807 in the quarter.

State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Twp.) reported raising $50,210 in the last quarter, including a $20,000 loan from Forlini himself. Forlini has raised a total of $78,750 for the cycle The fifth GOP candidate in the race, former State Sen. Alan Sanborn (R-Shelby Twp.), reported raising $7,095 in the last quarter, including a $3,000 loan form Sanborn himself. Sanborn has raised $55,703 total for the cycle.

Going forward, with the primary election on Aug. 2, Mitchell reported having $713,978 cash on hand at the end of the quarter, June 30. Pavlov reported $115,831 cash on hand. No one else in the race reported more than $10,000 cash on hand.

That includes Democrat Frank Accavitti (D-Grosse Pointe Shores), who raised $6,905 in the last quarter.

1st District: Bergman Has Most Cash To Use Of GOP Contenders

Running in a competitive Republican primary, Jack Bergman, of Watersmeet, a former general in the Marines, reported more cash on hand as of June 30 than his better-known GOP opponents.

That's mostly because Bergman gave his campaign $270,120 in the last quarter. In total, the campaign reported $336,275 in total receipts for the quarter, more than was reported by former State Sen. Jason Allen (R-Traverse City) or current State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba). Bergman had $240,014 cash on hand on June 30, according to the new reports.

But Bergman’s campaign had spent only $94,261 as of June 30, much less than the $237,365 Casperson’s campaign had spent. Casperson raised $122,131 in the last quarter. For the cycle, Casperson’s campaign has raised $373,768. Casperson reported loaning his campaign $20,000 on June 30.

As for Allen he reported raising $109,269 in the last quarter. For the cycle the Allen campaign has collected $282,151.

Democratic candidate Lon Johnson, of Kalkaska, the former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, continues to hold a fundraising lead in the swing 1st District. Johnson reported raising $361,075 in the last quarter, for a total of $1.27 million for the cycle. In the last quarter, Johnson’s campaign reported $1,183 in spending on robo-calls and a $296,500 TV ad placement.

Johnson’s primary opponent, Jerry Cannon, of Kalkaska, fundraised only $2,865 in the last quarter. Cannon was at $46,169 in total receipts for the cycle.

The 1st District candidates are running to replace U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls), who isn't seeking re-election. 

7th District: Walberg Edges Driskell In Fundraising

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) out-fundraised his likely general election challenger, State Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) in the last quarter.
Walberg reported raising $375,263 between April 1 and June 30. Driskell reported raising $351,672 over that time. For the cycle, Walberg’s campaign has collected $1.64 million. Driskell’s campaign has collected $1.51 million.

What could be more important is the cash the two have left to spend. Walberg’s campaign reported $1.48 million cash on hand on June 30. Driskell’s campaign reported $1.00 million cash on hand.

8th: Bishop Has An $855k Advantage

With his initial Democratic challenger dropping out of the race, U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) padded his fundraising advantage in the last quarter.

Actress Melissa Gilbert, of Brighton, who had success on the fundraising trail, dropped out of the race in May. Democrats are now backing an assistant Macomb County prosecutor, Suzanna Shkreli, in the 8th. Shkreli launched her candidate in early July, after the reporting quarter had already ended.

With that going on on the Democratic side, Bishop raised $261,947 in the last quarter, putting him at $1.46 million for the cycle. He reported $855,093 cash on hand as of June 30.

As for Gilbert, she raised $81,781 from April 1 until she ended her campaign because of health problems in May. After getting out of the race, she gave about $68,000 to other Democratic congressional candidates around the U.S. and refunded $75,300 in contributions, according to her latest campaign finance report. She still reported $149,230 cash on hand at the end of the quarter.

6th: Clements, Upton Continues To Raise Big Dollars

Preparing for a rematch of 2014, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) and professor Paul Clements, a Democrat from Kalamazoo, continue to have success with contributors.

Upton, a long-time member of Congress, reported raising $300,791 in the last quarter. For the cycle, he’s now raised $2.40 million. No Michigan candidate has received more financial support from political committees in the 2015-2016 cycle than Upton. He’s collected $1.63 million from them, according to his reports.

Clements reported raising $206,335 during the quarter. For the cycle, his campaign has raised a total of $628,698. The Clements campaign reported $447,806 cash on hand on June 30, much less than the $1.35 million Upton reported in cash on hand.

A fundraising ranking of all Michigan's 2016 congressional candidates is available here.

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