U.S. Rep. Don Bacon raised roughly 10 times as much as any of his potential Democratic opponents in the first three months of 2019.
Bacon, a Republican who represents the Omaha area, took in about $370,000 in the first quarter and had about $300,000 in the bank March 31.
That left Eastman with about $70,000 and Ashford with less than $35,000.
Two other Democrats that have said they intend to run for the office have not filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb said she expects others to seek the seat as well.
Nebraska’s 2nd District, which includes Douglas and western Sarpy Counties, has been considered a swing district. And Eastman, the 2018 nominee, came within 2 percentage points of unseating Bacon last year.
While it’s early in the 2020 cycle, this round of fundraising numbers puts Bacon at a clear advantage.
“The two of them will have to kick it up considerably if they expect to be competitive in the November election,” said Paul Landow, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Democrat.
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Landow said that after a weak showing, the two might struggle to convince other donors — particularly in Washington, D.C. — that they have a shot at beating Bacon. In particular, he said, a candidate would need to convince House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she is a viable candidate if she wants the support of outside groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Bacon, who began his second term this year, hasn’t officially announced a re-election bid but has clearly started to campaign.
“These results send a clear message that the voters of Nebraska’s Second District made their voices clear in 2018,” he said in a statement. “I remain focused on representing this district to the best of my ability while bringing Nebraska values like hard work and common sense to Congress.”
Eastman, who started a consulting firm after the last election, said she’s pleased with the support but she’s also heard from donors that it’s early in the process.
“I think that we will see a lot more support in the coming year,” she said.
Ashford said she started fundraising in late February — more than halfway through the quarter — and said she thinks she still can convince those outside groups that she could beat Bacon.
“I know what I need to do is raise enough money to get my message out, and I know I’m going to be able to do that,” she said.