Topeka Rep. Jerry Moran ended the last quarter with more than $2.9 million in cash for his 2010 Senate race, but Rep. Todd Tiahrt, his rival for the Republican nomination, contends that Moran’s advantage is shrinking.
Tiahrt ended March with about $1.3 million in campaign cash, but his campaign manager said the real significance is that Tiahrt raised nearly $400,000 in February and March.
Moran and Tiahrt are the only announced candidates for the Senate seat now held by Republican Sam Brownback, who is running for governor next year.
Their campaigns filed reports with the Federal Election Commission, and both said Thursday they were pleased with their fundraising.
Both candidates are relying heavily on money they stockpiled in their past congressional campaigns — Moran from the sprawling 1st District of western Kansas and Tiahrt in the 4th District, which covers Wichita and surrounding counties.
Moran’s campaign portrays him as the leading candidate. But Tiahrt campaign manager Robert Noland said it’s more important to track how much money the candidates are raising each quarter and what kind of organization they’re building.
Moran set up his campaign in January and raised about $522,000 during the first quarter of this year, adding to $2.4 transferred from his House campaign fund. Tiahrt organized his Senate campaign five weeks later and added nearly $391,000 during the quarter to the $1 million he transferred from his House campaign fund. His campaign noted his later start.
But Moran spokesman Travis Murphy said: “Our contributions actually increased once Mr. Tiahrt announced.”
Tiahrt’s supporters have been quick to note that Moran had little trouble winning his seat in 1996 and has faced token or no opposition from Democrats since. Tiahrt has won by comfortable margins, but his opponents have spent far more money than Moran’s. Noland said Tiahrt also has contributed more than $1 million to other GOP candidates or groups since taking office in 1995.
“That explains some of the difference,” he said. “Todd’s been helping to build the party and other candidates in all manner of races.”
But Murphy said Moran also has contributed several hundred thousand dollars to such party-building. “We feel that the geography of the contributions, in that they come from every county across the state, demonstrates that the support is widespread,” Murphy said.