John Fetterman ahead of Conor Lamb

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A turbulent few weeks and hard-hitting attacks have done little to change one of the lingering realities of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate: John Fetterman has a crucial financial lead.

The lieutenant governor has more than three times as much money as U.S. Representative Conor Lamb for the final month of the primary, according to an Inquirer analysis of campaign disclosures filed Friday, a key factor since polls already show Fetterman far ahead.

The financial upside is even bigger than it first appears, although Lamb reported its best fundraising quarter yet. Indeed, a significant portion of Lamb’s campaign funds can only be used in the November general election, not the May primaries.

Even considering the super PAC that backs Lamb, Fetterman has more than twice as much to spend as Lamb and his allies — despite having already spent more than both.

Democrats watching the primary believe Fetterman’s cash advantage is a huge hurdle for Lamb and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, as they must both increase their own support and bring Fetterman down, a costly proposition in a state where campaigns rely heavily on television advertising.

Fetterman had $4.2 million in the bank as of March 31, compared to $2.2 million for Lamb. But just looking at the money available for the primary, Fetterman has $3.9 million to about $1.2 million for Lamb, according to the Inquirer analysis.

That’s because $970,000 of Lamb’s fund is earmarked for the general election, reflecting his reliance on big donors whose contributions often exceed the $2,900 limit that can be used in the primary. The rest goes into its general election fund.

Fetterman raised $3.1 million in the first three months of the year and spent $4.3 million as the campaign took on new intensity. As usual, Fetterman relied on small donors, with more than half of his receipts in this report coming from people who gave less than $200.

Lamb raised $1.74 million during the same period, its best quarter yet, and spent about $2.5 million. More than 80% of its funds came from donors who gave more than $200.

READ MORE: Ad supporting Conor Lamb ad sparked backlash for falsely labeling John Fetterman a ‘self-proclaimed democratic socialist’

Kenyatta continued to struggle to raise funds, despite polling better than many expected. He raised $306,000 and had $271,000 left for the final weeks of the primary.

Penn Progress Inc., a Lamb-supporting super PAC, helped close the spending gap with Fetterman by disbursing $1.1 million on Lamb’s behalf, and $833,000 remained in the bank.

The group had promoted an ambitious goal of raising $8 million. It’s come a long way so far, raising just $1.9 million.

About 40% of that amount came from donors in Pennsylvania, with most of the rest coming from Massachusetts, California, Connecticut and New York.

Among the 51 PAC donors were Constance Hess Williams, a former state senator from Montgomery County; Joshua Bekenstein, CEO of Bain Capital; and Thomas B. Hagen, who runs Erie Insurance. All three donated $250,000 each.

About data

The data comes from Federal Election Commission reports filed by campaigns, online donation platforms ActBlue and WinRed, and super PACs. The campaign, super PAC and WinRed reports, filed Friday, cover the first quarter of the year; The Inquirer’s analysis combines these with previous quarterly reports. The latest data from ActBlue, which is filing on a different schedule, is available through February 28.

Money raised by super PACs is considered separately from direct campaign contributions in the analysis, because campaigns are legally prohibited from coordinating with super PACs.

Campaigns are not required to disclose individual donation details of contributors giving less than $200 in total. Because most of these small dollar donations are given online, the ActBlue and WinRed repositories fill almost all of this void. For most candidates, that means the data covers all but a small amount of low-value donations made directly to campaigns. The only exception: The John Fetterman campaign received a large sum of money through direct mail donations of small dollars that are not individually reported.
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