Democrats have a dilemma: They are running out of places to spend their mountains of cash.
Fundraising for the party’s Senate candidates — even some in GOP strongholds — has so exceeded expectations that party operatives are rushing to rewrite their budgets and expand their reach.
In the three months ending Sept. 30, Jaime Harrison brought in a record-breaking $57 million in his effort to take down an ally of President Donald Trump, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Former astronaut Mark Kelly raised nearly $36 million in his Arizona race to unseat GOP Sen. Martha McSally. Amy McGrath, facing an uphill battle against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, raised a similar amount. In some cases, these candidates entered their campaigns as major underdogs.
Republicans are scrambling to keep up. A bidding war for the limited time slots left in the last weeks of the campaign has driven up the cost of TV advertising to astronomical levels.
“We’re reaching a point where there is nothing left to buy in some of these states,” said Mike Madrid, a leader of the Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans working to defeat Trump and several of his GOP allies in the Senate.
Harrison raised more than double Graham’s haul. The Democrat’s campaign is buying so much advertising that the cost has become too high even for Madrid’s well-funded group. The same happened in Maine, where Democrat Sara Gideon’s $39 million haul was more than five times the amount Republican Sen. Susan Collins raised.
“The amounts are so insane that it is getting to the point of what do you even do with it all?” said Anthony Corrado, a Colby College professor of government. He said the two Senate candidates in his state have already raised more in this race than every candidate for Senate and House in Maine combined over the last 20 years.
“It is so far beyond the scope,” Corrado said. “The airwaves are completely saturated. I don’t even know if there is any more airtime to get.”