U.S. Rep. French Hill, Democrat Clarke Tucker rake in cash in Arkansas House race

WASHINGTON — Clarke Tucker, one of four Democrats seeking to unseat Republican Rep. French Hill, raised more money than the two-term incumbent during the first quarter of the year, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Tucker, a state representative from Little Rock, reported contributions of $505,412 and expenditures of $60,574, leaving him with cash on hand of $444,838.

Tucker outraised his opponents despite not entering the race until Feb. 5.

Hill, who is also from Little Rock, reported contributions of $376,365 and expenditures of $142,651 between Jan. 1 and March 31. The 2nd Congressional District representative had $1.534 million in his campaign war chest at month’s end.

The former banker faces no opposition in the May 22 Republican primary.

Paul Spencer of Scott, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, reported raising $100,814 and spending $108,694, leaving him with $120,324 on hand at the end of the quarter.

Fellow Democrat Gwen Combs of Little Rock raised $11,630 and spent $14,450, her report said. She had $7,587 cash on hand.

The fourth Democrat, Jonathan Dunkley of Little Rock, raised $9,845, lent his campaign $10,000 and spent $19,124, his report said. That left him with $971.

In a written statement earlier this month, Tucker said he “could not be more thrilled with the generous support our campaign has received since our announcement.”

Mike Siegel, a spokesman for the Hill campaign, said the incumbent is ready for the fall campaign.

“Congressman Hill has over $1.5 million cash on hand and is well-positioned to contrast his record of lower taxes and a stronger economy against [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ agenda of higher taxes and bigger government,” Siegel said in a written statement.

In a written statement, Spencer noted that he’d raised $250,000 since entering the race.

“The contributions our campaign has received, which come from Arkansas as well as every other state in the nation, shows that our message resonates with people all across this country.”

In a written statement, Combs said her focus is on voters, not donors.

“As an individual who grew up in poverty, I know how to make due on a limited budget, and as a public school teacher I know how to work with very few resources,” she said. “In Congress, I will fight for campaign finance reform to ensure that hard work and conviction win elections rather than money.”

Dunkley’s campaign said that he was not available for comment.

University of Central Arkansas political science professor Heather Yates says the fundraising totals suggest Democrats are serious about trying to unseat Hill in 2018.

Tucker has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a Washington group that describes itself as “the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives.”

“He entered the race with the expectation … that he would be a powerhouse for fundraising,” Yates said.

Hal Bass, a political science professor at Ouachita Baptist University, said it’s hard to draw firm conclusions about the race based on one quarter.

“It could just be the ebbs and flows of campaign fundraising,” he said. “I do think that with Tucker as a potential challenger, you’ll see Hill kind of get a little more aggressive on the fundraising.”

With more than $1.5 million available, Hill has more campaign money stockpiled than any of the other House members from Arkansas.

But the other three incumbents also have substantial reserves. U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, a Republican from Rogers, reported cash on hand of $1,414,054. He raised $194,607 and spent $79,078 during the first quarter.

Josh Mahony of Fayetteville, Womack’s Democratic opponent, reported raising $26,080 and spent $38,382 during the quarter. He also lent his campaign $40,000. His total debts and obligations were $46,666. He reported cash on hand of $44,738.

Womack’s Republican challenger in the 3rd District, Robert Ryerse of Springdale, reported raising $13,431 and spending $21,114. He listed cash on hand of $8,564 and reported debts and obligations of $11,000.

In the 4th District, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, a Republican from Hot Springs, reported cash on hand of $936,843 at the end of March. He raised $326,275 and spent $157,076 during the quarter.

The lone 4th District Democratic candidate, Hayden Shamel of Hot Springs, reported raising $28,908 and spent $26,284. She finished the quarter with $21,258 cash on hand.

Lee McQueen of Texarkana, an independent challenging Westerman, reported contributions of $803 and expenditures of $548 during the quarter. Cash on hand totaled $72. He loaned himself $1.08.

Federal Election Commission reports for Westerman’s Republican challenger, Randy Caldwell of Hot Springs Village, had not been posted late Monday.

In the 1st District, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford had cash reserves of $362,781. The Republican from Jonesboro reported raising $238,803 and spending $61,824 during the quarter.

Crawford’s Democratic opponent, Chintan Desai of Helena, reported quarterly contributions of $21,267, with expenditures of $21,381. Cash on hand totaled $2,484.

Metro on 04/17/2018

Print Headline: Hill, Tucker rake in cash in House race; 3 Democrats lag in funds