By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Democrats open their 2022 candidate qualifying on Monday, but according to new campaign finance reports released on Friday by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, they are trailing Republicans in both funds and candidate recruitment.
Republicans hold a commanding supermajority in the Alabama House of Representatives. Democrats are hopeful that they can cut into that majority in the 2022 election, but are still having difficulties recruiting candidates and raising money.
To this point, House candidates have raised $4,931,446.56 ahead of the special election and have already spent $1,496,504.95. Only 27 Democratic candidates have filed campaign finance reports with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, as required by law. Those Democrats have raised a combined $584,866.97 in 2021 and have spent $115,403.57. Meanwhile the 105 Republican candidates have raised $4,346,579.59 and spent $1,381,101.38. Six of those 105 are running for other offices, have left the legislature to take other jobs, or have dissolved their campaigns.
Money is almost everything in political campaigns. It buys signs, bumper stickers, digital advertising, TV and radio advertising, direct mail, and billboards, not to mention gasoline to go from campaign stop to campaign stop, canvassing House districts that for some rural areas encompass an area as big as four counties. Fundraising is largely the product of effort.
A candidate has to be willing to spend hours and hours phoning people inside and outside of the district asking for money.
Incumbency is a huge advantage, because incumbents wield real power and because they have done the job before and have an established network of supporters from previous campaigns they can draw upon.
Republican Frances Holk-Jones is the leading fundraiser thus far in 2021 with $136,050. She is running in House District 95.
State Rep. Neil Rafferty of Birmingham is the top Democrat in 2021 fundraising with $95,111 raised this year in his bid to win re-election.
Here is a full list of House candidates who filed a campaign finance report:
This is not an all-encompassing list because candidates who have raised less than $1000 do not have to report. Some of these candidates will ultimately not qualify, and since qualifying does not end until Jan. 28, many potential candidates are still on the sideline pondering whether to run.
That said, at this point, most incumbents do not face either a primary challenger or a general election challenger. That is likely to change in the next several weeks. Incumbents have been raising money for the last three years (or more) so many of them have six-digit war chests that they carried into the year. This list is just tracking momentum by measuring 2021 fundraising, not ranking the campaigns by cash on hand. December will likely be a busy month for campaigns as they try to boost fundraising in order to show a sizable war chest on their end-of-year campaign finance reports.
The major party primaries are on May 24, 2022.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon,[email protected].