WASHINGTON — Las Vegas Democrat Erin Bilbray raised $253,000 in her first three months as a candidate for Congress, a sum that paced incumbent Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada’s most closely watched race for federal office.
Heck, a Republican seeking his third House term, took in $241,000 from July through the end of September, the period covered in the latest reports the campaigns filed with the Federal Election Commission this week.
After counting expenses and carryover money from earlier campaigns, Heck still enjoyed a $627,000 advantage in cash available to move forward in the race. Bilbray had $194,934 cash on hand, while Heck’s had $822,357.
Heck and Bilbray are in the early phases of a 2014 race to represent the 3rd Congressional District, consisting of Henderson, Boulder City and unincorporated southern parts of Clark County.
Bilbray, a political manager and the daughter of former U.S. Rep. James Bilbray, raised two-thirds of her startup money from individuals, including family members. Labor groups and the political organizations of leading Democrats including Sen. Harry Reid ($10,000) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ($2,000) also donated.
Bilbray’s early expenses included hiring a fundraiser, Fran Katz Watson of Washington, D.C., and a research services group from Michigan. Her campaign manager, Bradley Mayer, is from Nevada.
Heck’s fundraising dropped off from early summer when he raised $431,000, mostly from doctors, medical political action committees and fellow Republicans in Congress.
In the more recent reporting period, Heck reported 63 percent of his donations were from individuals and 36 percent from political groups.
Competing in a district that has a 10,000-voter Democratic registration advantage, Bilbray could pose a challenge to Heck because she does not have a voting or policy record that Republicans could attack, said Mark Peplowski, a political science professor at the College of Southern Nevada.
But he advised Bilbray will need to step up fundraising to keep up with Heck.
“The momentum she needs has to be stronger and growing,” he said. “I really believe she has to begin the new year with almost a million bucks. She has to be taking in gaming money and mining money to show they see her as a possible hope for the future.”
In a relatively quiet election cycle, Nevada does not have a U.S. Senate race in 2014, and the state’s other three House members do not yet have declared opposition.
According to the latest finance reports:
■ Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford raised $171,921 from July through September and reported $117,682 cash on hand. Political action committees accounted for 72 percent of his receipts.
■ Democratic Rep. Dina Titus raised $100,250 and had $142,986 available at the end of the reporting period. She reported still holding $55,000 in debt, with $50,000 owed to her campaign manager.
■ Republican Rep. Mark Amodei raised $78,550 and had $210,951 in available cash.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.