Bilbray's money: Low-hanging fruit, competitive with Heck in the quarter, way behind in cash on hand

Democratic congressional challenger Erin Bilbray’s first quarter of fundraising is a mass of contradictions amid a flood of old Vegas money, thanks to her lifetime in Southern Nevada and her former representative father’s friends and political associates, as well as a large chunk from the Station Casino/UFC family, which is fighting the No. 1 Democratic special interest, the Culinary union.

On the one hand, Bilbray picked the low-hanging political fruit, as you might expect – family (those Kohns below are in-laws), unions, House leaders, current and former Nevada pols, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. On the other, many of the old-time Las Vegans who gave did not max out, so she has room to grow within that donor base.

On the one hand, she raised slightly more in the quarter as Rep. Joe Heck, who took in just under $250,000 while she raised $253,000. On the other hand, she burned $60,000 of it and started behind by $650,000, so she has a 4-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage to the congressman (he has about $820,000 on hand).

On the one hand, she took in most of her PAC money from unions, but got not one contribution from the Culinary. Instead, Lorenzo Fertitta and his wife maxed out, as did UFC boss Dana White and the UFC parent, Zuffa, Inc., gave $2,500. So $18,100 of her total came from Culinary enemies.

Those contributions occurred because, her campaign says, the Fertittas and White are lifelong friends. But a Culinary spokeswoman told me the union was “disappointed” in the contributions. The real question is how active the union will be in 2014, with its objections to Obamacare implementation and with no presidential race to energize it.

Bilbray, as any other candidate might, hyped her first fundraising quarter as record-setting, asserting she raised more than any other Nevada challenger during a thrid quarter in an off-year. (How's that for qualifications?) She appears to be right based on the FEC records.

But it's hardly that simple -- she began raising money in the third quarter in an off year, so she should do robustly. And she did. But a 4-to-1 deficit is not close to what she needs -- Bilbray must raise at least half of what Heck does to have a chance, I'd say. And considering the seat is a national focus for both parties, that just might happen.

The Bilbray money details and some highlighted donors:

Raised: $253,000

Spent: $58,000

COH: $195,000


Shelley Berkley                                $500

Jim Bilbray                                      $1,300

Robert Bilbray                                  $1,000

Bill Boyd                                         $500

Richard Bryan                                  $500

EMILY’s List                                   $500

Cedric Crear                                             $250

Frankie Sue Del Papa                        $250

Lorenzo, Teresa Fertitta                     $10,400

Mark Fine                                        $500

Janie Gale                                        $1,000

Tom Gallagher                                 $1,000

David Goldwater                              $370

Danny Greenspun                             $1,000

John Hunt                                        $2,000

Megan Jones                                    $500

Halina Jones-Vergiels                         $1,500

Todd Marshall                                  $2,000

Chris Kaempfer                                $500

Jesse Kohn                                       $5,200

Jennifer Lazovich                              $250

Paul Masto                                       $250

John O’Reilly                                   $1,000

Romy Silver-Kohn                            $5,200

Billy Vassiliadis                                 $1,000

Dana White                                      $5,200

AFSCME                                        $5,000

AFT                                                 $5,000

Tom Collins                                     $1,000

Jim Clyburn                                     $2,000

Ironworkers                                     $5,000

IBEW                                              $5,000

Nancy Pelosi                                    $2,000

Off the Sidelines (Gillibrand)               $5,000

Searchlight (Reid)                             $5,000

Op Engineers                                   $10,000

Dina Titus                                        $1,000

UFCW                                            $5,000

Zuffa                                               $2,500