Election in the rearview, millions in the bank


If you’re looking to make friends in Washington, campaign contributions are a good place to start.

These House incumbents managed to keep both their seats and their campaign war chests intact. They will have a healthy start on fundraising for the 2016 contests and plenty of moolah to spread around to other campaigns, an important means of building allegiances and climbing the ranks of committee and party seniority.

Political committees file mandatory post-election reports detailing their political activity, which we collect with Sunlight’s Real-Time Federal Campaign finance tracker. We are unable to put together a similar list for the Senate because they file their reports on paper, despite the protests of Sunlight and others.

Darrell Issa with striped dark suit and polka dot tie in front of American flag
Darrell Issa’s campaign had over $3.7 million dollars left over after his re-election, new campaign documents show. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The 100 candidates above each finished the election cycle with more than $700,000 in their campaign accounts. The majority of whom kept their war chests intact by coasting to re-election in a safe district. The top five on our leaderboard — all incumbents — each won re-election by margins of 20 points or more. A safe seat and a perch on one of the House’s top committees, or among party leadership, seems to be the recipe for big campaign cash surpluses.

Republican congressman Darrell Issa, whose campaign had $3.7 million on hand at the latest tally, is the outgoing chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Paul Ryan, a prominent national figure, cruised to re-election. The surfeit of campaign dough will soon come in handy, as he will soon replace outgoing congressman Dave Camp as Chair of the House’s top tax committee.

In parallel circumstances, Lloyd Doggett’s congressional campaign still has more than $3 million to play with after the Texas Democrat trounced his Republican challenger to win re-election in the deep blue 35th District, south of Austin. Doggett, a 20-year House veteran, serves on both the Budget and Ways and Means committees, two of the most sought after assignments.

His campaign continued fundraising at full bore up until election day, raking in more than $85,000 in the final two weeks of the campaign including $5,000 contributions from union PACs representing electrical workers, longshoremen and carpenters.

Hey, big spender

The newest cache of campaign disclosures brings few surprises among our list of top spenders: The last minute money was flying from the same major players who steered most of the money in the 2014 elections.


MORE: See what the most powerful outside groups got for their investments in Sunlight’s return on investment analysis.


The congressional arms of both major parties ran out of gas in the waning days of the election, with the DCCC and NRCC receiving loans of $12 million and $10 million respectively.

Others going in to the red in search of election day glory include a bevy of wealthy, self-funded candidates, who opened their own wallets to spur on their campaigns. Not surprising, given the soaring costs of congressional races.

The biggest candidate campaign debtor? That award goes to Republican Doug Ose, who finally conceded on Nov. 19 after a nail biter with incumbent Democrat Ami Bera in California’s Seventh District.

Check Sunlight’s Real-Time Federal Campaign Finance tracker for the latest campaign finance data.