House Democrats who switched their votes to help pass the new health care law saw their political contributions rise this year, a USA TODAY analysis of new campaign-finance reports show.
They also outraised their Republican challengers during the first three months of the year — as they picked up financial support from fellow Democrats, health care interests, labor groups and others.
Several of the House Democrats who initially opposed the bill represent conservative or swing districts — where the health care bill is less popular — making them GOP targets, said Stuart Rothenberg, of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. "From Day One, it was clear they were going to need a war chest to either dissuade strong opponents or to engage in combat with potentially strong opponents," he said.
Their fundraising advantage comes as the Democrats' campaign committees this week reported a $21 million edge over Republicans in the amount of cash available. Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said passage of the health care bill "energized" donors.
Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said GOP candidates will have enough money to compete in an election climate that favors Republicans.
The House Republican campaign committee raised $8 million in March to the Democrats' $9.8 million, the best monthly haul for Republicans since losing control of the House in November 2006, Lindsay said.
Colorado Rep. Betsy Markey— one of six Democrats up for re-election in November who went from "no" to "yes" on health care — raised the most of the group in the first quarter of 2010: more than $500,000. That's twice as much as in the previous quarter.
Markey, a freshman, raised more than $100,000 from political action committees associated with corporations, unions and Democrats in the first quarter of the year. Markey aides did not return telephone calls Wednesday.
New York Rep. Scott Murphy, another Democrat who changed his vote to support health care, raised $470,000. The fundraising surge shows Murphy's "message … is really resonating," spokesman Josh Schwerin said.
Contributions dropped by nearly 60% for Louisiana Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, the lone Republican to support the health care bill when it initially passed the House in November. Cao, who voted against the final health care legislation, is a freshman from heavily Democratic New Orleans.