Ann McLane Kuster: the candidate to beat?

1 Jul

After a frenzied 24 hours of emails urging voters to contribute to her campaign, Democrat Ann McLane Kuster announced sweet success: she raised more than $310,000 in the second quarter, again proving her ability to be a strong fundraiser and a serious contender in the race.

The funds will allow Kuster to compete with her well-financed competitor Katrina Swett in the Democratic primary, which should be a tough battle between the two.

In an email to supporters:

We did it!  Last night, we smashed through our second quarter fundraising goal and raised over $310,000 since March 1.

I’m proud to tell you we are funding this campaign the right way: through the help of thousands of grassroots supporters, with an average donation of less than $85.

We have raised more money from New Hampshire citizens than anyone running for the U.S. House of Representatives has ever reported.The people-powered campaign you’ve helped us build over the last year shows we know how to put people over politics and help change Washington.

As of March 31, Kuster had raised $841,634 to Swett’s $346,867, although she had only $563,063 on hand, in comparison to Swett’s impressive $1,086,889.

Both had significantly out-raised and out-spent Republican front-runner Charlie Bass by the end of the first quarter. See the numbers here.

Kuster splashed onto the scene with her announcement earlier this year that she had raised more from NH donors than any other candidate for Congress in the state’s history, and the fact that the average donation this quarter was less than $85 speaks to her success at grassroots campaigning.

Her challenge will be earning name recognition among voters — many of whom have seen Swett or Bass yard signs and bumper stickers, but may not have heard of the newcomer from Hopkinton. An April 29 poll showed that 73 percent of voters were neutral or didn’t know of Swett, as compared to 88 percent who felt the same about Kuster.

So now the ball is in Swett’s court. Will she announce her fundraising totals soon? If she comes out with an impressive number, it could dampen Kuster’s victory a bit and remind voters of Swett’s political might. But if she waits too long or has only a mediocre showing, it could give the media just another opportunity to proclaim Kuster the candidate to beat.

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