Indicted Congressman Collins Being Outraised in GOP Primary

  • Iowa Republican Steve King also faces well-funded opponent
  • Some House Democrats facing 2020 primary challengers

New York Republican Chris Jacobs is raising campaign funds more like a well-established congressional incumbent than a challenger to a sitting officeholder.

Jacobs, a state senator, has collected more than $773,000 for a 2020 House campaign. He’s seeking the seat of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who’s under indictment and in danger of losing his overwhelmingly Republican 27th District in suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester.

With $748,000 in his campaign account as July began, Jacobs is the best-funded primary challenger so far to a sitting House member in the 2020 election, according to Federal Election Commission reports analyzed by Bloomberg Government.

Jacobs has raised $440,100 from individual donors and $8,200 from political action committees and also loaned his campaign $325,000, his FEC report shows.

Collins, a close ally of President Donald Trump, was indicted on charges of insider trading in August 2018 and barely won re-election in November. He’s denied wrongdoing but was removed from his committee assignments under House rules.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Rep. Chris Collins walks out of New York court house after being charged with insider trading on August 8, 2018.

Collins’s fundraising has plummeted, though he has the personal wealth to finance a re-election campaign if he sees it through. Collins raised just $11,380 in this year’s second quarter and loaned his campaign $500,000. His sparse donor list included the political action committee of the Tuesday Group, a bloc of Republicans with moderate leanings.

Here’s a look at some other 2020 House contests where primary challengers have shown early strength in fundraising.

Iowa’s 4th District

State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) has raised more than $400,000, including $140,000 in the second quarter, in his bid to unseat nine-term Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in a strongly Republican swath of northwestern Iowa.

Feenstra received political donations from the Business Industry Political Action Committee, the Associated General Contractors of America, and the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers.

It’s rare for PACs to donate against incumbents in primaries. But King drew bipartisan condemnation and was stripped of his committee assignments in January after making comments about white supremacy and white nationalism.

King raised about $92,000 during the second quarter but spent just as much, leaving him with just $18,000 in his campaign account as July began. He didn’t receive a single PAC donation during the three-month reporting period.

Illinois’s 3rd District

Marie Newman, a lawyer who almost ousted Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in a 2018 primary, has raised far more money for her 2020 rematch campaign at a comparable point.

With more than $540,000 in receipts through the end of June, Newman collected almost three times as much as the $195,000 she reported raising for her 2018 bid through the end of June 2017.

Newman is a favorite of EMILY’s List, which aids Democratic women who support abortion rights. Her most recent donors include presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand’s PAC, hedge-fund operator Donald Sussman, and Priorities USA chairman Guy Cecil.

Lipinski, who’s in his eighth term, is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who emphasize fiscal restraint and have moderate leanings. He was a rare Democratic vote in 2017 for a bill that would have banned most abortions at 20 weeks. Lipinski has accused Newman of running a “Tea Party of the left” campaign.

The Illinois primary next March is one of the earliest on the 2020 political calendar. The district includes parts of Chicago and its suburbs and is heavily Democratic.

Hawaii’s 2nd District

State Sen. Kai Kahele (D) has raised $399,000, including $149,000 in the second quarter, in his bid for the seat of four-term Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) a 2020 Democratic presidential contender.

Kahele’s most recent donors include the PAC of Marriott International Inc.

Gabbard hasn’t said if she’ll seek re-election if her presidential campaign falters, though she could seek both offices simultaneously. The Hawaii congressional primary is in August 2020.

New York’s 10th District

Lindsey Boylan (D), a former state economic development official seeking to unseat Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), took in $349,000 during the second quarter from donors including former CIA director George Tenet, and former Sens. Bill Bradley (N.J.) and Bob Kerrey (Neb.). All are managing directors at the New York-based investment bank Allen & Co.

Nadler, who was first elected in 1992, has received high ratings from progressive groups and has been politically dominant in an overwhelmingly Democratic district that includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Boylan has demanded that Nadler and the Democratic-controlled House immediately initiate an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Nadler began July with $960,000 in campaign cash-on-hand.

Boylan’s receipts include about $84,000 from the candidate.

Texas’s 28th District

Jessica Cisneros (D), an immigration attorney, reported $147,000 in second-quarter receipts for her bid to unseat eight-term Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) in a Hispanic-majority Democratic district in and around Laredo. About 80% of Cisneros’s funding came from donors who gave less than $200.

Cisneros is a former congressional intern for Cuellar, a bipartisan-minded Blue Dog Democrat who sometimes sides with Republicans, including on energy and regulatory policy.

Cuellar was unopposed in the 2018 primary and didn’t face Republican opposition in the general election.

Michigan’s 3rd District

Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) is no longer facing a primary opponent, having left the Republican Party on July 4.

During the April-to-June reporting period when Amash was still a Republican, state Rep. Jim Lower (R) raised $201,000 for his anti-Amash primary campaign, including a donation from the political action committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The nation’s largest business federation has long opposed Amash, who’s often a lonely dissenting “no” vote on spending bills.

Other Republicans have since entered the race.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bennett Roth at