U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi is dead last in seniority in the Illinois congressional delegation, but he is first in fundraising with receipts exceeding $826,000 so far this year.
That effort left the first-term Democrat from Schaumburg with nearly $1.7 million in campaign cash in the bank at the start of April, federal reports show.
A fat war chest is a way to discourage potential challengers in the months leading up to 2018 mid-term elections. For freshman lawmakers in particular, big cash totals suggest they can pass the plate while learning the ropes in the Congress.
Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield had the second-highest fundraising for the first quarter of 2016, raising nearly $676,000. Last year, he won back the House seat in the North Shore and north suburbs that has remained one of the most reliably competitive districts in Illinois.
And Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton was next in line, raising nearly $586,000, Federal Election Commission reports showed. The longtime congressman already has been targeted by some Democrats for 2018 because his northwest suburban district both re-elected him last year and voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Democratic Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville had the most cash on hand among Illinois’ House delegation, holding onto more than $2.2 million as of the end of March. His $171,000 in fundraising so far this year put him in the middle of the pack, though. The wealthy physicist and inventor still owes $1.13 million in loans he gave his campaign from 2008 and 2012, reports said.
Federal elections are costly. Candidates who won House races in 2016 spent an average of almost $1.52 million, according to the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute in Washington. The figure does not include the big bucks that outside groups plow into competitive races.
Three other Illinoisans had million-dollar-plus treasuries at the start of April, including Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline, with nearly $1.69 million, who amassed the sum after winning a competitive race last year.
Two Republicans with little or no opposition in 2016 also crossed the million-dollar mark: Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon had more than $1.53 million in the bank and Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville, just over $1 million.
One former Republican official hasn’t raised much toward another run, though. Last year Schneider won his seat by ousting a three-time rival, Republican Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth.
Theirs was the costliest House race in the state in 2016. Dold’s campaign spent $5.65 million to Schneider’s $5 million. Outside groups dropped nearly $8.3 million in the race, with more of that going to help Dold, the Campaign Finance Institute said.
Dold’s latest campaign finance report showed debts of nearly $164,000 just over $1,000 in cash in the bank, and contributions of just over $500 in the period.
Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago had campaign debts of nearly $26,000 at the end of the period, or more than 10 times his cash on hand of $2,431. His wife Carolyn Rush died March 13.
Rush had one contribution in the quarter: $5,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Political Action Committee.
Meanwhile, indicted ex-Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria still is plowing through old campaign dollars to pay his legal bills, which totaled more than $117,000 in the first three months of the year, reports show. The former Republican lawmaker quit in March 2015, but people with campaign accounts still have to file regular reports.
The GOP lawmaker left Congress with more than $3.2 million in his campaign treasury and has paid out millions to lawyers. He is awaiting trial on a 24-count federal indictment for alleged theft of government funds, fraud, making false statements and filing false tax returns.
As April began, Schock had about $161,000 in his campaign treasury and a big debt to a law firm that he still owes nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.