It was a lucrative quarter for Rep. Peter Welch, who scooped up $213,000 from July to the end of September. More than 400 individual contributors chipped in $84,000. Nearly 90 Political Action Committees, the financial bedrock of his campaign coffers, supplied the rest.
The flow of cash picked up pace since last quarter, when he took in $122,000.
Welch spent $64,000, most of which went to salaries and other housekeeping duties, but he also disbursed $1,000 each to State Treasurer Beth Pearce, Rep. Bruce Braley — a fellow Democratic congressman from Iowa, who’s looking to leap chambers to the Senate, and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a freshman from Connecticut.
That still leaves Welch with a healthy $1.3 million on hand, one year away from his next race.
The late summer months were slower for Sanders and Leahy, whose terms don’t expire for another five and three years, respectively. Both took in a little more than $30,000 in contributions and both remain comfortably situated — Leahy with $1.5 million on hand and the Sanders campaign with $4 million to its name.
Sanders spent $35,000 while Leahy spent $67,000 during the period.
Maritime engineers and postal workers were among the PACS that contributed a cumulative total of $5,000 to Sanders’ campaign. But as usual, the bulk of his donations — $28,000 — came from individuals.
Sanders, who has been in the Senate since 2007 and in Congress since 1991, is in the big leagues for fundraising, by Vermont standards. But the senator does not accept corporate donations, and while he described a 2016 presidential run as “tempting” in a Playboy magazine interview, he cited financial constraints as the No. 1 obstacle holding him back.
“Well, the answer is that to run a serious campaign, you need to raise hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s No. 1,” Sanders told Playboy.
When the interviewer mentioned President Barack Obama’s successful fundraising efforts, Sanders dismissed the comparison, responding, “Obama went to his friends on Wall Street the first time around. … I’m not Barack Obama. That’s the point. I do not take corporate money. “
For Leahy, the PAC-versus-person ratio is the reverse — during the past quarter, he received $25,000 from PACS and $6,000 from individuals.
Leahy, who is a member of the Appropriations Committee and was appointed to the conference committee that will seek to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm bill, continues to have solid support from the dairy and military industries.
The PAC profile for Welch also includes a number of agricultural interests, as well as an array of medical sector PACS, ranging from rheumatology to dermatology.
Welch serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Oversight and the Government Reform Committee. While his seat on the latter doesn’t appear to inspire many campaign donations, a number of telecommunications companies and several oil and gas groups kept up their financial connection to Welch this quarter.
At a news conference Thursday, in response to a reporter’s question about why so much of his campaign cash comes from PACS, Leahy redirected the focus to the number of individual contributions he receives from Vermonters.
“Every time I’ve run, I’ve had more Vermonters contribute to me than any of my opponents,” Leahy said.
And, Leahy went one step further, “I guarantee you, three years from now, if I run again, there will be more Vermonters, individual Vermonters, contributing to me than whoever my opponent is.”
Those donations, not PAC money, according to Leahy, is the determining factor of “whether you’re going to win or not.”