Cheney fundraising highest in three years

CASPER — U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney posted her strongest quarterly fundraising numbers in three years on Monday, raising just over $400,000 in the past three months.

This amount represents the most money she has raised in a similar span since 2016 where, as a candidate, Cheney raised $472,000 in the home stretch of the 2016 Republican primary elections.

Though significant compared to Cheney’s recent fundraising history, the Teton County Republican’s haul over the past three months stands as only the fifth-most successful fundraising quarter of her career, lagging well behind the $760,000 raised in the first quarter of 2016 and the first two quarters of Cheney’s halted primary bid against Sen. Mike Enzi in 2013, where her campaign raised more than $1.72 million in combined funding.

Her July fundraising totals bring her year-to-date fundraising to more than $720,000, buffeting a significant war chest for an incumbent candidate considered to be in possession of a safe seat in House leadership.

Where the money came from

A vast swath of the money Cheney raised this past quarter came from large donors outside of the state. According to campaign finance records, after a first quarter fueled primarily by California conservatives, Cheney continued the trend into the spring, collecting 50 donations from California donors, many of which equaled or exceeded the $1,000 mark.

Now an influential figure in the Republican Party, Cheney’s donor list has expanded to include a number of high visibility conservatives from around the country. Donors this quarter included notable names like New York State Republican Party chairman Ed Cox, Arizona Diamondbacks owner Earl Kendrick, famed financial CEO Charles R. Schwab and casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson.

Industry groups from the banking, pharmaceutical and energy industries also flocked to Cheney, with large donations coming from groups like Koch Industries — which gave $10,000 — Cloud Peak Energy, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Lockheed Martin, which is heavily tied in national defense contracts with the federal government.

Just four of Cheney’s donors this quarter were from Wyoming, amounting to a total of $16,450.

Low spending

Despite high fundraising numbers, Cheney spent relatively little over the last two quarters, spending just over $223,000 this past quarter and $272,000 the quarter before — more than half of which was given to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Cheney — like in 2018 — is not expected to face a significant challenge for reelection should she run for the House. However, this quarter Cheney has raised nearly as much in two quarters of fundraising she had during the entire 2017-18 election cycle as an incumbent. In the meantime, her campaign has spent very little of it, burning through just under 30 percent of the funding she’s raised — a substantially lower burn rate than seen in previous cycles.

So what’s changed over the past three months? In Washington, there is still widespread speculation that Cheney could potentially mount a bid to contest former Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis — who still has nearly $96,000 in cash on hand — in a race to replace the soon-to-retire Enzi in the Senate next year. Other potential names for the Senate, such as Foster Friess, have limitless resources and deep pockets to mount a bid for the Senate, making any potential race likely to be a high-finance barn burner.