Politics

Becca Balint outpaces Molly Gray in Democratic US House primary fundraising

Becca Balint, left, and Molly Gray. Photos by Mike Dougherty and Glenn Russell/VTDigger

State Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, D-Windham, has now surpassed Lt. Gov. Molly Gray’s cumulative campaign fundraising total as the two compete to become Vermont’s first congresswoman.

With less than two weeks until the Aug. 9 primary and with early voting already underway, congressional candidates on Thursday were required to file one final campaign finance report with the Federal Election Commission before primary day. The report, documenting contributions and expenditures between July 1 and July 20, is the final snapshot Vermonters will have of the candidates’ finances before the last votes are cast.

Within those 20 days, Balint closed the gap between her and Gray’s cumulative donations since each launched their campaigns in December. Both also have surpassed $1 million in donations: Balint has raised nearly $1.12 million since December to Gray’s $1.05 million.

Between July 1 and July 20 alone, Balint raised $144,792 and Gray $65,424. In the same period, Balint spent more, too: $380,359, compared to Gray’s $275,189.

Closing in on the primary, Gray still has Balint beat on money in the bank: Gray has $293,155 cash-on-hand to Balint’s $126,622.

To date, Balint has outspent Gray by hundreds of thousands. Balint’s campaign has spent $985,238 since December, compared to Gray’s camp, which spent $760,427 in roughly the same period.

Balint’s campaign isn’t the only group spending big to get her elected. According to OpenSecrets, three outside political action committees, or PACs — the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Equality PAC and Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC — have spent a total of $846,463 to Balint’s benefit. That includes $240,528 this week alone in new expenditures on direct mail, TV and digital advertising, according to FEC data.

Gray’s campaign has for weeks pushed to make outside PAC spending a central issue in the race, saying earlier this month that “outside money has no place in our elections.”

On Tuesday, Gray made an appeal to supporters on Twitter, asking in a recorded video for volunteers to canvas and phone bank for her campaign: “We may get outspent — we are getting outspent, there’s $600,000 pouring into Vermont from outside groups — but we will not get outworked,” she said.

Though it was not included in the July 1-20 filing, Gray did receive a high-profile donation on Tuesday: Green Mountain PAC, a leadership PAC associated with Vermont’s U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, contributed $5,000 to Gray’s camp.

Dr. Louis Meyers, a physician and South Burlington resident who is also competing in the Democratic U.S. House primary, reported having raised $50 and spent $8,858 during the latest reporting period. Meyers has largely self-funded his run, having previously reported a $257,976 loan to his campaign.

In the Republican primary for the U.S. House seat, accountant and conservative YouTuber Ericka Redic has raised ​​$11,814 to date and spent ​​$9,056 since launching her campaign. Neither of her primary opponents, former GOP congressional nominee Anya Tynio nor anti-war Marine veteran Liam Madden (who actually identifies as an independent) filed their reports by Thursday evening.

In the race for Vermont’s open U.S. Senate seat, Vermont’s sitting U.S. Rep. Peter Welch continues to dominate campaign fundraising. The Democrat between July 1 and July 20 received $116,620 in contributions and spent $136,401. Since launching his campaign in November, he has raised nearly $2.38 million in contributions and spent $1.83 million. Upon entering the Senate race, he already had millions socked away from his House campaign account. By July 20, he had $2.76 million cash-on-hand.

Welch’s Democratic primary opponent Isaac Evans-Frantz in the first 20 days of July raised $7,510, bringing his cycle-to-date contributions to $107,572. To date, he has spent $50,359. On July 20, he had $55,953 in the bank.

Across the aisle, former U.S. attorney for Vermont and Republican Senate candidate Christina Nolan raised $12,386 and spent $38,101 during the July reporting period. To date, she has raised $360,659 and spent ​​$201,502, leaving her with $159,157 in hand as of July 20. Nolan also has the support of Senate Republicans already serving on Capitol Hill, like Maine’s U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who has headlined Washington, D.C. fundraising events for the candidate.

Among Nolan’s competitors, political newcomer Gerald Malloy has raised $57,856 and spent $54,827 this period. Malloy has also loaned a total of $80,000 to his own campaign. A recent University of New Hampshire poll, commissioned by WCAX, showed Malloy narrowly outpacing Nolan in support among likely Republican primary voters, though his lead was within the poll’s margin of error. 

Another Republican funding his own Senate campaign is businessman Myers Mermel, who has loaned a total of $70,000 to his campaign. Mermel has also raised $45,530 in recent weeks, and spent $33,277.

Independent Senate candidate, former child actor and cryptocurrency billionaire Brock Pierce doesn’t have a primary contest in which to compete on Aug. 9. But according to his latest FEC filing, he continues to dig his campaign into an ever deeper financial hole, surpassing $1 million in debt in July.

Pierce reported no contributions between July 1 and July 20, but in the same period, he loaned his own campaign $133,000. In total, he has loaned the campaign $1.13 million.

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Sarah Mearhoff

About Sarah

Sarah Mearhoff is one of VTDigger's political reporters, covering the Vermont statehouse, executive branch and congressional delegation. Prior to joining Digger, she covered Minnesota and South Dakota state politics for Forum Communications' newspapers across the Upper Midwest for three years. She has also covered politics in Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she is a proud alumna of the Pennsylvania State University where she studied journalism.

Email: [email protected]

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