House Republicans in toss-up races grapple with campaign debt ahead of 2024 cycle

George Santos
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) departs Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 11, 2023. Santos is carrying on in Congress despite calls for him to resign. Santos admitted to fabricating many aspects of his life story, but the newly elected congressman is refusing calls to quit. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

House Republicans in toss-up races grapple with campaign debt ahead of 2024 cycle

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As Republicans seek to hold on to their slim majority in the House, several incumbents in toss-up districts must face fundraising deficits as they mull reelection in some of the most competitive seats in 2024.

There are nine House seats held by Republicans that are considered to be toss-ups in the 2024 cycle, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Of those, six lawmakers reported comparatively low amounts of cash on hand as well as staggering levels of fundraising debt — possibly putting them at a disadvantage as they head into the 2024 cycle.

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The lawmakers who reported debt also face tough reelection chances as each of them won their midterm races by less than 2 percentage points.

Among those who are most vulnerable is Rep. John Duarte (R-CA), who won his midterm race by just 0.42 of a point during the last cycle. Duarte showed strong fundraising numbers during the 2022 campaign, but he ended with $119,260 in debt, according to campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) is also considered to be at risk in the next election cycle after winning his seat by only 0.88 of a point in 2022. Schweikert managed to rake in $2,017,220 in the midterm cycle, beginning 2023 with $52,991 cash on hand. However, the Arizona Republican has about $205,171 in debt, putting him at a deficit.

A pair of New York Republicans who narrowly flipped blue seats during the midterm cycle must also grapple with fundraising debt. Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY), who won his race by less than 1 point, reported $105,129 in debt as of Jan. 1 of this year. Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY), who by just 2 points, fared a bit better with just $59,288 in debt.

Both are running in toss-up districts in a reliably blue state.

The GOP lawmaker who has racked up the most debt is Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who reported owing $755,000 in loans and committee payments, according to the FEC. Santos faces an uphill battle for reelection as he faces a flurry of scandals after fabricating several details about his resume on the campaign trail, including his education and work background. His seat has been rated as “lean Democrat.”

It’s not unusual for candidates who ran competitive races to report low amounts of cash on hand or to be in debt immediately after an election cycle. A handful of Democrats have reported similar numbers as they prepare for tough reelection challenges.

Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-NC) reported having $36,999 cash on hand as of Jan. 1 with $953,950 — putting him at a deficit. Similarly, Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) recorded strong fundraising numbers in 2022, reporting $52,620 cash on hand at the beginning of 2023. However, the Pennsylvania Democrat reported roughly $242,800 in debt.

Democrats also benefit from strong fundraising numbers during the last election cycle, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee far outraising the National Republican Congressional Committee in the first two months of 2023.

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All 435 seats are up for grabs in 2024 as Republicans seek to hold their slim majority in the lower chamber. Of these, 42 are considered competitive, with most of those held by Democrats compared to Republicans — giving the GOP a slight advantage as it prepares for the next election cycle.

However, of the 42 competitive seats, 18 are held by Republicans in districts that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, compared to just five Democrats who must defend their seats in districts carried by former President Donald Trump. That means there are just enough vulnerable GOP-held seats to keep things competitive heading into the next election cycle.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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