HOLYOKE — New reports show a dramatic split in how candidates in the 1st Congressional District are fueling their campaigns: political action committees for the incumbent, individuals for the challenger.
Quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission show that incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, raised $336,920 from April 1 to June 30, down from the almost $470,000 he raised during the first quarter of the year.
Neal's challenger, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, raised $321,927 this quarter, significantly more than the $178,752 he raised during the first quarter of the year.
The reports offer the last look at their fundraising and spending before the Sept. 1 Democratic primary election.
The vast majority of Neal's second-quarter fundraising, 84 percent, came from political action committees, or PACs, which can give $5,000 per year to a candidate. Most of that money came from corporations and trade associations.
Nearly all of Morse's fundraising came from individual donors, 95 percent of whom gave less than $200, according to the campaign. Of the $321,927 Morse raised, $3,500 came from other sources: a $2,000 donation from Jessica Cisneros for Congress, the political committee for the unsuccessful progressive challenger in Texas' 28th Congressional District this year, and $1,500 from Humanity Forward PAC, the organization spun out of the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Andrew Yang.
Neal ended the quarter with $4.2 million in cash on hand, whereas Morse had $315,212.
Neal continues to be a top fundraiser in the U.S. House. In particular, he has received more money from corporate PACs than all but one other member of the House — California Republican Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader. Nearly 52 percent of the money Neal has raised this cycle has come from business PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The district includes all of Berkshire County, all of Hampden County except for one precinct in Palmer, and parts of Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester counties.
PACS for Neal
Among the PACs that have given the maximum $10,000 to Neal this election cycle are the tobacco company Altria Group, formerly known as Philip Morris; the American Bankers Association; the investment firm BlackRock; the alcohol giant Constellation Brands; the accounting firm Ernst & Young; General Electric; the for-profit health care facility operator HCA Healthcare; Insured Retirement Institute, a financial services trade association; several insurance companies, including John Hancock, Massachusetts Mutual and MetLife; the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors; the National Venture Capital Association; The Boeing Co.; and Visa.
Morse's fundraising received a big bump in the last week of the reporting period, according to his campaign, which said he raised about $110,000 in that week alone. The increase came after Jamaal Bowman, a progressive challenger to U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel in New York's 16th Congressional District, endorsed Morse over social media June 23. Bowman went on to win his race over Engel, a longtime incumbent who chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The filings also show how much money the candidates spent during the second quarter.
Morse spent $146,432, which is similar to the $159,468 he spent in the first quarter. Neal, meanwhile, spent $639,889 during the second quarter, a significant increase from the $424,949 he spent during the previous quarter.
Almost half of Neal's spending was on advertising. The longtime incumbent spent close to $300,000 on ads and media during the quarter through the Northampton-based firm Horgan Associates.
Morse, for his part, didn't spend any money on TV ads. The campaign did spend $24,909 on "digital consulting," though, including $18,000 with the progressive media and fundraising firm Middle Seat Consulting. Morse has spent $10,647 on Facebook ads from May 1 to July 14, $4,243 of which was spent in the last week, according to the website's ad library.
There also are outside groups spending money on advertising in the race, recent FEC filings show.
The group Fight Corporate Monopolies — i's a nonprofit led by progressive political operatives and which, as a 501(c)(4), does not have to disclose its own donors — spent $150,000 on July 7 running ads against Neal. Those ads accuse Neal of having sided with his corporate backers over constituents. The group has pledged to spend $300,000 on anti-Neal ads.
Neal previously had been the beneficiary of outside ad spending. In January, for example, the American Hospital Association, which represents hospitals and health care providers, spent $69,487 on advertising supporting Neal, according to FEC filings.
Voters head to the polls on Sept. 1 to decide who will win in the Democratic primary. There are no Republicans running for the seat after Southwick businessman John Cain dropped out of the race to unsuccessfully run for state Senate in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District.
Dusty Christensen can be reached at email@example.com.