Michigan House, Senate candidates raise 1Q cash despite COVID-19 crisis

The U.S. Capitol | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t halted congressional fundraising. 

With Michigan expected to see some of the closest races for U.S. Senate and House seats in the country this fall, incumbents and their challengers continue to pad their campaign coffers. 

Wednesday marked the deadline for candidates to report their fundraising totals for the first quarter of this year, revealing their cash hauls from Jan. 1 through March 31. 

Here’s what the reports revealed about the races expected to be most competitive. 

U.S. Senate

John James (left) and Gary Peters (right) | Photos by Ken Coleman and Andrew Roth

GOP U.S. Senate candidate John James, a businessman from Farmington Hills, outraised Sen Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) for the third straight quarter, the reports show. 

James raised $4.8 million in the first quarter of 2020, compared to Peters’ $4 million haul. 

Peters has raised more for the cycle, however, raising $15.8 million so far in the race. James has raised a total of $13 million since his campaign launched in June 2019. 

They both ended March with hefty war chests. James reported having $8.6 million in the bank; Peters had slightly more with $8.8 million. 

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as competitive, but leaning Democratic. 

3rd House District

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.) is facing challenges from both major political parties after he broke ranks with the GOP last year to become an independent. He announced this week that he had paused campaigning in mid-February in order to consider a run for the White House. Meanwhile, his competitors continue to amass cash. 

Amash raised $96,800 for his congressional race in the first quarter of this year and has brought in a total of $1.1 million over the full election cycle. He ended March with $644,600 in the bank. 

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Two of the leading Republicans in the race are businessman Peter Meijer and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.).  

Meijer raised about $353,000 in the first quarter of 2020, including a $150,000 loan from the candidate himself. 

He has raised a total of $1.1 million this cycle, including $325,000 in self-financing. He ended March with $634,200 in the bank, only slightly less than Amash. 

Meijer this week scored the coveted endorsement of the powerful DeVos family. 

Afendoulis raised $189,600 in the first quarter of 2020. Over the full cycle, she has raised $461,800 — including $56,000 in loans from the candidate. She ended March with $248,300 in the bank. 

Democrat Hillary Scholten raised $151,600 in the first quarter. She has raised $518,400 for the cycle and ended March with $259,000 in the bank. 

Democrat Nick Colvin dropped out of the race in February, citing personal and financial reasons. 

Cook Political Report in December moved the race from a “toss up” to its “lean Republican” column, due in part to Amash’s support for impeaching President Donald Trump. “It’s doubtful there’s a sufficient market for a pro-life/pro-impeachment independent in the district to allow him a path to a sixth term,” wrote David Wasserman, who analyzes U.S. House races for the political newsletter. 

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6th District 

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton faces a competitive race this fall against State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), but Upton retains a significant cash advantage.  

The veteran congressman raised $387,400 in the first quarter of 2020. He raised $1.7 million so far this cycle and ended March with $1.1 million in the bank. 

Hoadley raised $208,700 in the first quarter and has raised $942,900 so far this cycle. He ended March with $250,500 in the bank, far less than Upton. 

Cook rates the race as “likely Republican.” 

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8th District

Freshman U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) remains one of the top House fundraisers so far in the 2020 cycle, pulling in about $4.5 million so far. 

She raised $1 million in the first quarter of 2020, according to her most recent filing. She had $3.7 million cash on hand at the end of March. 

She’s facing competition from a handful of Republicans, all of whom trail far behind her in fundraising. 

Paul Junge, a former Lansing TV anchor, raised $229,900 in the first quarter of this year — including a loan from himself of $185,000. So far this cycle, he has raised $503,400, including a total of $310,000 he loaned his campaign. He closed March with $408,100 in the bank. 

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Alan Hoover reported raising $49,600 in the first quarter of this year, and $51,000 for the cycle. He had $14,000 cash on hand. 

Cook rates the race as leaning Democratic. 

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10th District

Several Republicans have jumped into the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden). 

Businesswoman Lisa McClain raised $247,000 in the first quarter, including $200,000 from herself. She has brought in $736,200 over the cycle, with $450,000 in self-financing. She had $541,300 in the bank at the end of March. 

State Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) raised $90,200 in the first quarter, including $5,000 in self financing. He has raised $364,800 this election cycle, with a total of $17,000 in loans he made to his campaign. He ended the quarter with $279,300 cash on hand. 

Republican Doug Slocum, a U.S. Air Force veteran, raised $76,200 in the first quarter of 2020 and has raised $227,000 this cycle, including a $30,000 loan from the candidate. He had $138,800 in the bank at the end of March. 

Democrat Kimberly Ann Bizon reported raising $1,700 in the first quarter and a total of $5,900 for the cycle. She ended March with $24,900 cash on hand; Bizon loaned the campaign $25,000 in 2018. 

11th District

Freshman U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) — another leading House fundraiser — brought in $583,200 in the first quarter. She has raised $3.2 million so far this cycle. She closed March with $2.4 million in the bank. 

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Republican attorney Eric Esshaki raised $62,300 in the first quarter. He has raised $230,000 this cycle, including a $50,000 loan from himself. He closed the quarter with $186,100 cash on hand. 

Former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Milford) raised $32,500 in the first quarter. He raised $95,400 in the cycle, including $52,500 in self-financing. He had just $5,000 in the bank at the end of the quarter. 

Republican Carmelita Greco raised $294,900 in the first quarter after loaning her campaign $275,000. She had $239,600 in the bank at the end of last month. 

Cook rates the race as leaning Democratic.