By Lawrence Messina
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin began October with a $2.17 million campaign balance, the most of any West Virginia candidate running this year and dwarfing the nearly $85,000 held by GOP foe John Raese, their latest Federal Election Commission filings show.
A Democrat and former governor, Manchin also outraised all other federal candidates during the July-through-September reporting period. He attracted $568,000, including nearly $300,000 from political action committees.
Manchin defeated Raese in a 2010 special election to complete the term of the late Robert C. Byrd. With the seat now up for a full, six-year term, Manchin faces a rematch with Raese in November.
A Morgantown industrialist and multimillionaire, Raese loaned his campaign $535,000 after raising just $144,000 during the three-month period. Raese had largely self-financed his 2010 effort, giving it more than $3 million, as well as two previous unsuccessful runs for U.S. Senate and his 1988 failed bid for governor.
Nearly half of the contributions to Raese’s latest campaign came from two sources: his employees or family members, who gave around $26,000; and members of the Boyle family or officials at their construction company, Mountaineer Contracting, who provided around $33,000.
Raese is chief executive of family-founded Greer Industries, which includes a radio network, a newspaper, a private golf course, and steel, asphalt and limestone operations.
Greer holdings received at least one-third of the $680,000 that Raese spent during the reporting period. Two-thirds of his spending on radio ads, or $145,000, went to its stations. Raese reimbursed Greer more than $40,000 for company aircraft or office costs, and owes it another $11,000 for those expenses. He spent nearly $10,000 with The Dominion Post, or one-fifth of the money devoted to newspaper ads.
Another $14,700 went to Pikewood Creative, a Raese-owned video production company that is owed another $5,100 by the campaign. The campaign’s spending during the three months also included $123,000 on TV, $71,000 on direct mail, $24,000 on fundraising events, and $13,000 on Facebook and other Internet ads.
Raese had $84,852 on hand as of Sept. 30. Federal candidates will file one more round of reports next week before the Nov. 6 general election.
Manchin spent $602,520 during the reporting period. Just over half that money, $303,000, went toward TV ads through Media Research & Strategies of Denver. Another national political firm, Struble Eichenbaum Communications, received $47,000 for ad production.
Manchin’s contributors, meanwhile, reflect a wide range of special interests from health care providers, energy companies and financial sector firms to manufacturers, labor unions and the construction industry.
PACs representing hospitals and the HCA, Genesis Health Care, Community Health Systems and Lifepoint Hospitals chains gave to Manchin, as did PACs for such health insurers as Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Wellpoint and Medicaid Health Plans of America. Such energy interests as Arch Coal, Shell, Chevron and American Fuels contributed through their PACs. Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and UBS were also among Manchin’s PAC donors.
Other special interest PAC contributors included the National Rifle Association and Americans United in Support of Democracy, a pro-Israel group. The leadership PAC of U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., gave to Manchin as well.