Bernie Sanders' Senate War Chest Reaches a Record $8.8 Million | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders' Senate War Chest Reaches a Record $8.8 Million


Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: ERIC TADSEN
  • File: Eric Tadsen
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised close to $1.4 million for his reelection campaign over the past two months, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission. The two-term senator, who faces minimal opposition in the November election, spent $549,153 of it.

That left Sanders with more than $8.8 million cash on hand, a new record in Vermont politics.

Prior to this election cycle, the record-holder was businessman Rich Tarrant, whose 2006 Senate campaign raised just more than $7 million — nearly all of it from the candidate himself. Sanders, who defeated Tarrant that year to claim an open Senate seat, raised close to $6.2 million at the time.

While it's unlikely that Sanders could spend down his war chest in the three weeks remaining until Election Day, he could legally transfer the balance to a future presidential campaign.

Sanders faces eight challengers in his reelection race, but only one of them, Republican Lawrence Zupan, filed a report with the FEC by Tuesday morning. He raised $85,979 over the past two months and spent $40,382 of it. By the end of September, Zupan had $52,007 in his campaign coffers.

In the most recent two-month period, 97 percent of Sanders' contributions came from individual donors and the rest from political action committees and other special-interest groups. Those included an $8,500 donation from the Letter Carrier Political Fund and $5,000 donations from the American Federation of Government Employees, the Engineers Political Education Committee, J Street, PAC and the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who is also up for reelection this November, raised $151,306 over the past two months, according to his latest FEC filing, and spent $44,148. The six-term member of Congress reported having $2.1 million in the bank at the end of September. Welch's Republican rival, Anya Tynio, raised $7,315 in the most recent period, spent $1,733 and had $5,507 in cash on hand.

As is often the case, Welch raised a significant portion of his campaign funds from special-interest groups. Nearly 70 percent of his contributions came from PACs and candidate committees, while only 30 percent came from individuals.

Welch's donors included PACs associated with Deloitte ($5,000), Cox Enterprises ($5,000), National Community Pharmacists Association ($5,000), American Hotel & Lodging Association ($5,000), American Optometric Association ($5,000), Land O'Lakes ($2,500), Acxiom Corporation ($2,000), Duke Energy ($1,000), Lockheed Martin ($1,000) and the United Mine Workers of America ($1,000).

Vermont's third congressional delegate, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), is not up for reelection in 2018. He raised just $52,903 over the past three months, spent $85,522 and had $1.6 million in reserves.

Disclosure: Paul Heintz worked as Peter Welch’s communications director from November 2008 to March 2011.