Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. raised more money in the first three months of the year than the 13 other Democrats and six Republican candidates vying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, in Congress.
Federal campaign finance records show the five-term mayor of Lake County's most populous city pulled in $269,924.95 between Jan. 1 and March 31, more than the combined haul of the two other elected officials that are closest to McDermott in terms of money raised in the Democratic race.
According to the Federal Election Commission, North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan raised $116,458.05 in the first quarter, and state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, collected $105,474.00 and loaned her campaign an additional $10,000.
McDermott said he's pleased he managed to outraise all of his opponents because he was forced to minimize his fundraising efforts, including his annual St. Patrick's Day extravaganza, because of the coronavirus pandemic requiring the cancellation of large events.
"We are in a good spot for the home stretch," McDermott said. "The extra month of campaigning will stretch the budget, but we are in a much better position than my opponents, and I will continue to run a very strong campaign through Election Day on June 2."
McDermott said he still hopes to raise additional money in the second quarter of the year, so he can "be on TV for the better part of the month of May."
Mrvan, likewise, said he's put off campaign fundraising in recent weeks to focus the duties of his current position, where he's busy addressing the immediate health, safety and economic needs of individuals and families during this unprecedented time."
"I understand the importance of fundraising, and I am proud of the incredible momentum in my campaign due to the thousands of individuals who have donated their financial resources, time, and tremendous enthusiasm," Mrvan said.
Candelaria Reardon said her total shows she has "strong, grassroots support" from voters who trust the six-term state lawmaker "to continue to be their progressive champion" in Washington.
"It's clear from talking to voters throughout Northwest Indiana that Hoosiers want a leader who's already been in the trenches — supporting our union workers, expanding access to health care, and unafraid to stand up to Trump and the Republicans," Candelaria Reardon said.
After deducting recent campaign spending from their fundraising totals, records show McDermott has $160,671.18 cash on hand, Candelaria Reardon $146,450.07 and Mrvan $43,300.
FEC data show the biggest campaign war chest heading into the final weeks of the Democratic primary belongs to Gary attorney Sabrina Haake.
Haake only raised $17,662.63 in the first quarter. But she loaned her campaign a whopping $209,000 to push her cash on hand to $236,731.23.
"When I entered this race, I knew the top competition would collect more contributions than I would because they are all either career politicians or perennial candidates for public office," Haake said.
"I've also heard other candidates criticize my 'millions' and my financial contributions to my own campaign. But voters need to know that unlike McDermott, Mrvan, Harper and Reardon, I'm 100% self-made. I didn't come from 'connected' parents or money.
"I think NWI is ready for a new voice, a self-made rags-to-riches congresswoman, instead of continuing to elect the same Democratic machine politicians who have been in office here for years."
Both Haake and Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper explicitly have refused to accept campaign donations from large corporations or their political action committees, which they say will make them more directly responsive to Northwest Indiana voters.
Records show Harper raised $73,887.83 in the first quarter, personally loaned his campaign $30,000 and has $81,323.88 cash on hand.
"Our numbers are showing that this is truly a people-powered campaign," Harper said.
"I'm confident that despite running outside the Lake County political establishment, we have the resources and volunteers to get the message out about the bold change we need to see in this country."
The only other Northwest Indiana congressional candidate who raised enough money in the quarter to have to file an FEC fundraising report was Republican Mont Handley.
Records show the Chesterton businessman and inventor received $615 in campaign donations, loaned his campaign $30,000 and has $22,464.66 cash on hand.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb continues to have a likely insurmountable cash advantage over Dr. Woody Myers, the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee.
State campaign finance records show Holcomb has $7,126,831.08 cash on hand after raising $391,473.31 in the first quarter of 2020 and spending $517,165.53.
His running mate, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, has an additional $356,036.00 cash on hand, according to campaign finance records.
Kyle Hupfer, Indiana Republican Party chairman and Holcomb-Crouch campaign manager, said the governor's focus over the past 40 days has been leading the Hoosier State through the COVID-19 crisis and not working on fundraising or campaigning.
"My main reaction is thankfulness that our supporters allowed us to be in this position that unexpected events haven't derailed our campaign," Hupfer said. "We haven't had to let go any of our staff. I feel the governor is in a very strong position."
Records show Myers ended the first quarter with $158,930.75 cash on hand; a significant improvement over the $1,886.15 his campaign had in the bank on Dec. 31, 2019.
However, Myers' campaign actually would be in the red right now if he hadn't loaned himself $165,624.28, after raising 360,231.87 from others during the quarter and spending $368,811.55.
Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, said he halted his campaign fundraising due to the coronavirus pandemic and has shifted to providing critical health information to Hoosiers.
"I understood early on what this virus would mean for Indiana — both from a health and an economic standpoint," Myers said. "I directed my team to begin looking for solutions to control the crisis and find a map out of the financial fallout before state leaders fully grasped what was coming."
"Real leaders put aside their personal agendas to focus on the public good. In this case, that meant turning away from fundraising toward providing medically-accurate, solution-based information. In spite of the most challenging public health crisis of our time, many donors to our campaign have remained both steadfast and generous — and, for that, I am enormously grateful."
Indiana attorney general
Both Democrats and Republicans have contested races for their attorney general nominations which will be awarded at each party's state convention in mid-June, following the primary elections.
The Democratic candidates are state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, and former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.
Records show Tallian had $101,528.69 cash on hand to make her case for the attorney general nod to Democratic convention delegates, while Weinzapfel reported $662,724.13 in the bank as of March 31.
The Republican candidates are Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr., former Indiana Revenue Commissioner Adam Krupp and Zionsville attorney John Westercamp.
At the end of the first quarter, Hill had $80,173.46 cash on hand, Krupp $51,193.43, and Westercamp $56,634.29, according to state campaign finance reports.
Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a Munster native and former secretary of state who is considered a potential dark horse Republican attorney general candidate in case Hill's law license is suspended in coming weeks by the Indiana Supreme Court, tallied just $2,150.72 in his state campaign account.