Back in August 2009, when staunch conservative Patrick Hughes appeared out of nowhere to challenge Congressman Mark Kirk for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, one of the immediate questions he was asked was, how do you expect to compete with Kirk, who is one of the most successful fundraisers in Congress? Hughes brushed off that concern, claiming when he announced his candidacy that he had over $400,000 in commitments. He also implied that, as a successful real estate developer, he had the ability to self-fund.
Fast forward to the end of the Q3 reporting period, when we found out that Hughes had raised only $132,205. He then made a $250,000 loan (not a contribution) to himself. So much for those commitments he talked up to attract supporters and media attention. (For comparison, for the same Q3 period last year, Kirk raised more than $1.6 million)
But, never fear, Hughes said he understood that a candidate needs money to run a legitimate and competitive campaign, and he would be able to raise $1.5 million for the primary. It seems many people who thought about supporting a guy like former Judge Don Lowery were attracted to Hughes at least in part because they believed his claims that he could raise enough money to run a competitive race.
Well, fast forward once more to less than two weeks before the primary. Did Hughes meet that fundraising goal?
Um, no. Based on his pre-primary filing with the FEC, which covers the period from October 1, 2009 to January 13, 2010 (in other words, all of the 4th Quarter plus the first two weeks of January), he raised a grand total of only $135,488.68. He also paid himself back $3,000 out of his campaign fund, according to his FEC filing, so that reduced his outstanding loan balance to himself. Starting to pay himself back from his fund before the campaign is even over, coupled with his overall anemic fundraising, left Hughes with only $22,561.34 cash in the bank.
Well, you're not going to buy a lot of campaign ads with $22K.
Getting back to that $1.5 million he said he'd raise, it turns out he's raised a grand total of only $267,694.01 for the entire campaign cycle, after excluding his $250K loan. That leaves him a little shy of $1.2 million more needed to reach his goal.
Leaving aside the issue of whether we can believe Pat when he makes his grandiose claims of fundraising prowess and how he is the "only" candidate who can beat Mark Kirk, anyone considering a vote for Hughes needs to take serious measure of whether anyone realistically can believe that he has a chance to win in November against the Democratic nominee. (Just for comparison's sake, Dem front-runner Alexi Giannoulias has raised over $3.5 million so far).
As most regular Team America readers know, I went to law school with Pat; we were friends, and spent many an hour studying together. But I told him candidly that I was a Kirk supporter, and that I felt that Mark was far more qualified than Pat to be a U.S. Senator. Pat would have been a great candidate for state rep. or some other office where he could have learned the ropes of campaigning and fundraising. But, he is clearly in over his head and his lackluster fundraising shows it. As Republicans, we can't afford to make a wrong choice when the chance to retake this seat is so good, IF we have the right candidate for this electorate.
Let's make an intelligent choice and vote for Mark Kirk, so we can get a win in November and another R seat in the U.S. Senate.
UPDATED: Hughes Supporters Still Trying to Clear Conservative Field: This is rich. Pat Hughes' supporters continue to try to make the case that their guy Pat is the only conservative with a chance to defeat Mark Kirk, and the rest (Arrington, Lowery, etc.) should bail. Why? Well, because only he can raise the money it takes!
Maybe they should read Team America. Or at least ask Pat what his fundraising success REALLY is.
This nothing new, of course. Hughes and his minions have been trying to make this a two-person race between he and Kirk for months now. Amazingly, however, the other candidates were not convinced by Pat that he was the only man for the job. Hmm, wonder why.
UPDATED x2: Here's a link to the full Hughes report on the FEC.gov website.
UPDATED x3: Here's a link to an interesting post collecting a number of links that seem to suggest that Hughes is letting the "best of the rest" race slip into the hands of Judge Donald Lowery from downstate. Hmm, wonder if the Hughes supporters will take their own advice and coalesce behind Lowery... NOT.
UPDATED x4: HUGHES BLASTS KIRK EXTREMISM: Doug Finke of the Gatehouse News Service had this to say about Pat Hughes:
In the Republican race for U.S. Senate, Patrick Hughes recently blasted U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park for being "extraordinarily moderate to liberal." Ouch, that's gotta hurt. In today's political climate the last thing you want is to be known as an extreme moderate.
Ha Ha Ha Ha!