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Southern Democrats who flipped seats in 2018 post strong fundraising numbers

South Carolina’s Joe Cunningham, Texas’s Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher lead pack in 2020 contributions

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

WASHINGTON (CFP) — The 10 Southern U.S. House Democrats who flipped Republican-held seats in 2018 all posted strong fundraising numbers for their re-election campaigns during the first quarter of 2019, as they try to build the war chests they will need to stave off GOP challengers next year.

U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, R-South Carolina

Leading the pack was Joe Cunningham, representing the Low Country of South Carolina, who raised $663,500 during the first three months of the year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

He raised more money than any other Southern House incumbent in either party, except for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, who raised $2.5 million.

Cunningham was followed by two Texans — Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in Houston, who raised $582,900, and Colin Allred in Dallas, who raised $530,400. In the Atlanta suburbs, Lucy McBath, who already has two Republicans actively campaigning against her for 2020, raised $482,000.

Among the three Democrats who won seats in Virginia in 2018, Jennifer Wexton, in the Washington D.C. suburbs, raised $424,200; Abigail Spanberger, in suburban Richmond, raised $415,300; and Elaine Luria, in Hampton Roads, took in $327,000.

In metro Miami, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell raised $457,000, while Donna Shalala took in just $269,370, the lowest fundraising total among the Southern House flippers.

Kendra Horn, who won a surprise victory last November in metro Oklahoma City, raised $377,600 during the quarter.

While all of these Democrats will have stout competition in 2020, no potential Republican challengers raised any significant money during the first quarter, except the two candidates running against McBath in Georgia. So as of now, all of these Democrats are out ahead financially of their challengers.

McBath raised more money than both of her Republican rivals combined. Karen Handel, who is gunning for a rematch with McBath after losing to her in 2018, raised $259,800, and State Senator Brandon Beach raised $123,800.

Historically, freshmen House members tend to be most vulnerable during their first re-election race, particularly in a wave year such as 2018, when large numbers of seats changed hands between parties.

Six of the 10 Southern Democrats who flipped seats won by 2 points or less in 2018, and, in 2020, President Donald Trump — who won or nearly won seven of these districts — will also be on the ballot.

Cunningham and Horn face perhaps the biggest hurdle. Both won their 2018 races by less than 2 points; Trump carried their districts by 13 points.

Trump won Spanberger’s district by 7 points in 2016, and she won it by 2 points in 2018. Trump narrowly won the districts represented by McBath and Luria; they each won by less than 2 points in 2018.

In Texas, Fletcher and Allred represent districts Trump narrowly lost, but their margins of victory in 2018 were slightly larger, 5 and 7 points respectively.

Wexton, Mucarsel-Powell, and Shalala would seem to have little to fear from a Trump effect in their districts, all of which Hillary Clinton carried handily. However, Mucarsel-Powell only won her 2018 race by 2 points, and her district, the 26th, has a history of swinging back and forth between the parties.

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