Rep. Chip Cravaack may not be joining the House Tea Party Caucus, but that doesn’t mean the freshman Republican doesn’t want campaign contributions from the Tea Party faithful.
Cravaack’s first Federal Election Commission report this year shows that Cravaack purchased a direct-mail list from Rep. Michele Bachmann, the fundraising star and potential 2012 candidate who founded the House Tea Party caucus.
Cravaack's office confirmed obtaining part of Bachmann's mailing list, which he paid $441 for, FEC records show. Cravaack's filing also lists an in-kind contribution from Bachmann's committee to Cravaack for a direct-mail list at the same price.
Cravaack raised $121,000 in the first quarter for a total of $183,000 in the 2012 cycle, putting him on pace to raise significantly more money than during his 2010 upset of then-Rep. Jim Oberstar. He has $113,000 cash on hand.
In the 2010 race, Cravaack raised less than $600,000 — one of the lowest totals of any congressional victor.
Cravaack’s seat is one of the Democrats’ top targets in 2012, meaning money will flow into the Eighth District from both sides. Cravaack raised more in the first quarter than Democratic Reps. Betty McCollum ($81,000) and Collin Peterson ($100,000), who both won reelection easily in 2010.
One-quarter of Cravaack’s money so far has come from political action committees, including both Minnesota business PACs like Best Buy and TCF Bank as well as the PACs of potential 2012 candidates Mitt Romney and Bachmann.
First-quarter filings for all candidates are due Friday.