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Peterson, Cramer start 2014 with fundraising edge

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News Jamestown,North Dakota 58401
Jamestown Sun
Peterson, Cramer start 2014 with fundraising edge
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Collin Peterson of Minnesota started 2014 with big fundraising advantages over their challengers in the November election.

Democratic challenger and state Sen. George B. Sinner, who didn’t start fundraising in North Dakota until he officially entered the race about a month ago, ended the first fundraising quarter with about $33,000 – a fraction of the $505,000 Cramer had packed away through March, according to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission.

In Minnesota, Peterson ended the quarter with about $523,000 in cash on hand. Torrey Westrom, a state senator and the only Republican so far to launch a campaign for Peterson’s 7th District seat, has about $171,000, according to his campaign filings.

Cramer and Peterson seem to have benefited from their incumbent status; each hauled in nearly double the money their challengers raised in the quarter that ended March 31.

Cramer, a Republican who won North Dakota’s lone seat in the House in 2012, raised $270,000 in the three-month period – dwarfing the $43,000 he pulled by this time in his first election. But Cramer was running for an empty seat, vacated when then-Rep. Rick Berg launched a failed bid to move to the U.S. Senate.

Sinner’s late entry in the race gave him just two weeks to raise funds in the first quarter, during which he raised $37,000. Almost a quarter of that came from fellow Democrat and current U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Her campaign fund gave Sinner $4,000 and her political action committee, Dakota Prairie PAC, pitched in another $5,000.

Chad Oban, executive director of the state Democratic-NPL Party, noted Cramer’s fundraising advantage as an incumbent, but said the party is pleased with the money Sinner raised in a two-week span.

“He has proved he has the ability to raise money” while also setting up a campaign, Oban said. “We’re not concerned about Senator Sinner being able to make up that gap.”

Bob Harms, the North Dakota GOP party chairman, attributed Cramer’s haul in part to his accessibility to the state during his first term in Congress.

And despite Cramer’s hefty fundraising advantage with Election Day just seven months away, Harms said he “wouldn’t discount Sinner’s chances.”

“It’s early out of the chute. There is a lot of election season left,” he said.

When it comes to dollars, the race for Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District is closer.

In his first full quarter of fundraising, Westrom raised $120,000, compared to Peterson’s nearly $218,000 haul. Westrom announced his campaign against the 12-term Democrat in early December.

Craig Bishop, chairman of the 7th District Republicans, said it’s hard to draw any conclusions from Westrom’s fundraising totals.

“He’s just getting going,” Bishop said.