By Jasmine Hall
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE — There are two clear frontrunners in the campaign to represent Wyoming as the state’s sole member of the House of Representatives when it comes to total amount raised in contributions so far.
Although U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney was censured by the national and state GOP in February, she still managed to raise the highest amount of financial contributions in the first quarter among the several contenders, at $2.94 million.
This put her ahead of Donald Trump-endorsed challenger and environmental attorney Harriet Hageman by nearly $1.62 million.
Cheney filed her quarterly report Friday with the Federal Election Commission, showing that among her considerable financial prowess for the race, her campaign received $2.52 million from individuals.
The campaign got close to $90,000 in contributions from other committees, such as political action committees, and nearly $415,000 was transferred from additional authorized committees.
Cheney’s campaign spokesman, Jeremy Adler, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle this week that the campaign didn’t wish to comment on fundraising.
Hageman reported $1.32 million in first quarter receipts. She has received 21,000 donations since the start of her campaign in September.
“It is an honor to have such support, and I pledge to always reflect the views and values of the people of Wyoming when I am in Congress,” Hageman said in a statement last week. “This is Wyoming’s seat in the House, not one individual’s.”
She received $1.29 million in total contributions from individuals but had to refund $10,000.
Other political committees donated around $58,000, and authorized transfers from committees were much lower than Cheney at $23,000.
Besides Cheney and Hageman, there are four additional candidates vying for the seat so far. But there is still opportunity for others to announce their bid for the seat, as the official filing period for candidates is May 12-27.
None of the additional candidates — except for one — have come close to the $500,000 mark since last year.
“Fundraising is important, to a point,” University of Wyoming professor of political science Jim King told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle by phone Wednesday. “Money allows for a lot of things. It allows for flying between events, rather than driving. It allows for more offices where the candidate can get material out. It can allow for more advertising on television. But it reaches a threshold where having money is not necessarily an extreme advantage.”
The expert said the kind of money the two frontrunners have is still a significant campaign driving force and gives them money to put their message out louder and clearer than candidates with less funds.
State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, was one of the earliest challengers to announce his intention to run against the incumbent Cheney in the 2022 primary.
He is the only one who has come close to the kinds of donations Cheney and Hageman are pulling. Since his announcement, he has raised close to $650,000, and came in third overall for total contributions in the first quarter.
Bouchard raised around $10,000 in total contributions in the most recent quarter, but he spent twice that in operating expenditures.
The rightwing lawmaker has seen a decline in his financial support throughout the past year, with a $15,000 drop in donations from the fourth quarter of 2021.
However, in comparison to the other three candidates with smaller campaigns, he still has significant cash on hand. At the end of the reporting period, there was close to $50,000 left in his Anthony Bouchard for Congress committee account.
Republican primary contenders Denton Knapp and Casey William Hardison hold less than $7,000 in cash on hand combined, and the number of donations they received were limited.
Hardison received one itemized donation of $1,000 in the first quarter, and also loaned $1,000 to the campaign.
Knapp received nine donations totaling $5,475.
Constitution Party candidate Marissa Selvig came in last place in the fundraising race so far. She raised $211.35 in total contributions in the first quarter, and has close to $2,600 in cash on hand.
King said the money the contenders raise now is meant to last them to the general election, and what they spend at the start of the year is nowhere near what it will become this summer.
“What they’re spending their money on is, in essence, getting ready for the sprint that will start toward the Aug. 16 primary sometime in May or June,” he said. “They’re getting their infrastructure together. They’re getting their staff together. They’re planning their media advertisements, but they’re not actually spending their money.”
Cheney spent nearly $900,000 in the first quarter, but still had $6.67 million left in cash on hand. Hageman expended $640,000 between January and March, and has more than $1 million moving forward.
The three candidates who raised the least have less than $10,000 combined left over in their reserves, and spent more than half of what they raised in the first quarter.
One similarity revealed in the finance reports of many of the candidates was the impact of donors from outside of Wyoming.
Candidates such as Cheney and Hageman received significant support across the nation, but even smaller campaigns were attracting out-of-state dollars. Knapp received nine donations in total this quarter, and two were recorded with Wyoming mailing addresses.