Tea Party Candidates Raise Big Money for House Races

Members of the House Tea Party Caucus bring in big bucks.

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July has been a volatile month for the Tea Party. The movement has recently been weathering charges of racism from the NAACP, but it also achieved a new level of legitimacy as the House of Representatives approved the Tea Party Caucus. In addition, a Gallup poll released earlier this month says that 30 percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. That support is translating into big fundraising numbers for several prominent Tea Party-affiliated candidates. [See a slide show of the top 5 fundraisers.]

But not all Tea Party candidates are feeling the support equally. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who formed the Tea Party Caucus, released the all-Republican roster of the new caucus, and among those 40 members seeking reelection, two representatives tower over the crowd, while many others have raised well-below-average amounts in their efforts to retain their seats. [See who donates the most to Bachmann.]

Bachmann is the top Tea Party Caucus fundraiser and is also among the House's top fundraisers. As of the end of June, she had taken in $4,074,622 in her tough race against Democratic challenger Tarryl Clark. Fully 89 percent of Bachmann's money this cycle--over $3.6 million--has come from individual contributions.

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson had similar numbers to Bachmann's. Like Bachmann, he has taken in just over $4 million this election cycle, with $3.7 million of that coming from individuals. Unlike Bachmann, much of his financial support came last year. Wilson's infamous outburst of "You lie!" during a September 2009 speech by President Obama sparked an outpouring of financial support. The Wilson campaign reported receiving $200,000 in the 24 hours after that incident, and nearly two-thirds of Wilson's current fundraising total came in that quarter. Wilson's $342,895 in receipts for the second quarter of 2010 pale in comparison. [See where Wilson's campaign cash comes from.]

After Bachmann and Wilson, the numbers drop off steeply. The three next most-successful Tea Party Caucus fundraisers--Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia--are all more than two million dollars behind Bachmann and Wilson.

Top 5 Tea Party Caucus Fundraisers Seeking Reelection

Name State Total Receipts This Cycle
Michele Bachmann MN $4,074,622
Joe Wilson SC 4,074,221
Mike Pence IN 1,755,298
Joe Barton TX 1,663,498
Tom Price GA 1,651,216

Tea Party-affiliated challengers are making waves around the country as well. California Tea Party favorite David Jeffrey Harmer has also posted impressive numbers in his campaign against incumbent Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney. The two men are now neck-and-neck in fundraising this cycle: Harmer has taken in $1,640,396 altogether, just under McNerney's $1,692,910.