Titus touts fundraising tally

State Sen. Dina Titus has raised more than $575,000 in the first two months of her run for Congress, a number the Democrat touted Wednesday as a sign of enthusiasm for her candidacy.

“I feel excited, I feel encouraged, I feel like there is a real message in this that people are wanting change,” Titus said of the fundraising total she is reporting to the Federal Election Commission for the quarter that ended June 30. Titus announced her candidacy in April.

Titus hopes to unseat incumbent Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., in the 3rd Congressional District, the suburban Clark County district that had traditionally been evenly divided between the two parties but now is home to 25,000 more Democrats than Republicans.

Titus jumped into the race after Clark County prosecutor Robert Daskas, a political newcomer who was recruited by the Democratic Party establishment, suddenly ended his run. Daskas had raised more than $580,000. Titus has duplicated his fundraising in a very short time, but she’s also only about where Daskas was three months ago, with just four months until the election.

According to her campaign, Titus raised more than any other Democrat in the country who launched a congressional campaign since April. “It lets people know that even though we got into the race late, we got cranked up fast,” she said.

In a news release from the campaign, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, hailed Titus’ haul.

“Dina Titus’ impressive support confirms that Nevada families have had enough of the Jon Porter-George Bush special interest agenda that gives tax breaks to Big Oil making record profits, rather than helping middle-class Nevadans,” Van Hollen said.

Porter said Wednesday he does not plan to disclose how much he raised prior to the July 15 federal deadline, but he said his fundraising would top any previous election cycle, both in total to date and for the quarter.

Through March 31, Porter had raised $1.6 million and had more than $1 million on hand.

On Wednesday, Porter argued that what counts is not how quickly you can drum up donors but how much you have, total, to run a campaign. He noted that Titus, whose candidacy is a top target for Democrats nationally, has had assistance from Democratic leaders in Congress and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“With the amount of help that she has, I think she’s probably where she should be if not a little lower,” Porter said.

Titus’ fundraising nearly equaled the most Porter has ever raised in a three-month period. In 2004, he raised $579,000 from July to September.

Of the $575,393 raised, Titus’ campaign reported spending just $21,931, leaving $553,462 in cash on hand, according to the election commission filing.

Titus said 43 percent of the contributions came from individual in-state donors, with the rest divided between out-of-state donors and political action committees.

A letter Daskas sent to one contributor indicated Titus had to start from scratch. In the letter, dated July 5, Daskas thanked the donor, explained that he left the race for family reasons, and said that there was no money left to return. The letter did not mention Titus.

In another sign that Titus is in the national spotlight, the national conservative advocacy group Freedom’s Watch began calling voters in the 3rd District with a message bashing Titus on Wednesday.

“Did you know Nevada gas taxes add more than 32 cents to every gallon of gas?” the automated message states, according to the group. “And what are Carson City politicians like Dina Titus doing about it? Nothing.” The call encourages people to call Titus and “tell her to be a leader and fight to roll back Nevada’s gas tax this summer.”

Titus is one of 32 Democratic incumbents and candidates in congressional races across the country that the group, which is backed by Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, is campaigning against with this round of calls, a spokesman for Freedom’s Watch said.

Titus said she could hardly be said to have done nothing about gas taxes.

In last month’s one-day special legislative session, she proposed a bill that would allow any potential federal gas-tax holiday to be passed on to Nevadans, instead of being absorbed by the state as is currently the case.

Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball @reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.

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