Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, faces five challengers for his congressional seat. But unless they are sitting on personal fortunes they intend to use against him, their chances of taking his job appear slim.
Stutzman started the year with more than $344,000 in cash on hand as he seeks his third two-year term, according to a report his campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission. He had raised more than $621,000 in campaign contributions through the end of 2013, more than half of it from political action committees.
Democrat Justin Kuhnle began the year with $97.33 in available cash. He had raised $803 in contributions, with about half coming out of his own pockets.
Democrats Jim Redmond and Tommy Schrader and Republicans Mark Baringer and James Mahoney III had not filed statements of organization with the FEC as of last week, let alone campaign finance reports.
Failing to provide those documents typically indicates a candidate has raised no money, is unfamiliar with campaign protocol or is tardy in assembling a game plan. This year's Democratic and Republican primary elections are only three months away.
Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine said last week that Stutzman "is too formidable of a candidate for the Democrats to waste their time and money" trying to defeat.
"Quite frankly, the last time a candidate with any credibility ran against Marlin, he was soundly defeated, and that was Tom Hayhurst," Shine said in a telephone interview.
Stutzman was first elected in 2010, when he won 63 percent of the general-election vote to 33 percent for Hayhurst, a former member of the Fort Wayne City Council making his second bid for Congress.
Stutzman was re-elected in 2012, receiving 67 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Democrat Kevin Boyd, a Fort Wayne pastor who had run far behind Hayhurst in the 2006 Democratic primary election.
Hayhurst raised more than $800,000 in campaign contributions for his battle against Stutzman. Two years later, Boyd raised only $42,000. His haul lagged those of the losing Democrats in five other Indiana congressional districts, four of whom attracted at least $399,000 each.
Asked whether Democrats have conceded the 3rd District to Stutzman and the Republicans, state Chairman John Zody responded in an email by saying the party will have a nominee.
Much of Zody's reply was devoted to criticizing Stutzman for, among other things, supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and pushing for cuts to food stamps.
IPFW political scientist Michael Wolf said history is working against Democratic candidates in the Nov. 4 general election: The political party of the president has lost seats in Congress in all but two non-presidential elections since 1934.
"Given this context, incumbent Democrats may choose to not run in marginal districts and up-and-coming Democrats might decide to wait for better conditions to challenge an incumbent like Rep. Stutzman," Wolf said in an email. "So the president's party tends to end up trying to recruit and fund candidates in open seats they've previously held rather than looking to gain ground."
There are no such seats in Indiana this year. Seven Republicans and two Democrats seek re-election in the state's nine House districts, and neither U.S. Senate seat is up for election.
Indiana's most competitive district in recent years has been the 2nd District, which includes South Bend and since 2002 has elected a Republican three times and a Democrat three times.
This spring, four Democrats – including the well-financed Joe Bock – will vie for their party's nomination to oppose first-term Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski.
Wolf said Stutzman appears safe from a serious challenge from within his own party because of his penchant for deep cuts to federal spending, a rallying cry among moderate and conservative Republicans alike.
"Finally, Rep. Stutzman sits on the Financial Services Committee, whose members never lack for sources of campaign contributions no matter what side of the aisle one's on," Wolf said.
"So given the conditions in 2014 and Rep. Stutzman's political position, it is not hard to see why competition may not be as fierce this year – that is barring any controversies or major swings in national politics."
Stutzman's campaign finance report shows numerous contributions from political action committees for financial services companies and groups, including associations representing bankers, insurers and accountants.
Among the more prominent names are PACs for Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Lincoln National, Morgan Stanley and Ernst & Young.
Local business leaders who have given at least $2,000 each to Stutzman's campaign in the current election cycle include Keith Busse, Bruce Dye, John Popp and Charles Surack.
Indiana's U.S. senators continue to grow their campaign coffers years ahead of their next re-election attempts.
Republican Sen. Dan Coats, who stands for re-election in 2016, had raised nearly $929,000 in contributions by the end of 2013 and started this year with almost $507,000 in cash on hand, according to his latest FEC report.
Democrat Joe Donnelly, who is up for re-election in 2018, had raised more than $670,000 in contributions and had more than $206,000 in cash on hand.
Here are the fourth-quarter 2013 campaign contributions for Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd; Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. Stutzman is up for re-election this year, Coats in 2016 and Donnelly in 2018.
|Cash on hand||$344,189||$506,797||$206,204|
|Source: Federal Election Commission|