CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It can pay to enter a political race early: Campaign finance reports show that Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito had millions of dollars in her U.S. Senate campaign account months before a Democrat had even stepped forward to join the race.
Last week, Democratic West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced her candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller. West Virginia has sent only Democrats to the Senate for decades, but it has gone Republican in recent presidential elections, and the party had struggled to quickly identify a candidate it could coalesce around after Rockefeller announced his retirement plans in January.
Tennant’s announcement means Democrats can start their fundraising in earnest, and they’ll have plenty of catching up to do after Capito an-nounced her candidacy in November.
The most recent Federal Election Commission report available shows Capito had more than $2.8 million in cash on hand at the end of June, and had already spent more than $400,000 on the race by then. That includes money spent on campaign staff salaries, travel, polling and media consulting, among other things.
Between January and the end of June, Capito’s campaign raised more than $1.1 million from individual contributions. But Capito also had plenty of contributions from out-of-state political action committees. Of the 230 contributions made by PACs to Capito, only three were based in West Virginia. However, that figure doesn’t include West Virginia-based companies or organizations that have their PACs headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area, such as coal company Alpha Natural Resources, whose Washington-based PAC has donated $5,000 to Capito.
Fundraising and expenditure reports for the third quarter that ends in September aren’t due until Oct. 15.