Whitehouse re-election fund at $2.8 million; Flanders on top for GOP

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (center) and Republican challengers state Rep. Bobby Nardolillo (left) and Robert Flanders (right).

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse finished last year with far more money in his campaign account than his two opponents for U.S. Senate, while Robert Flanders is the better-funded of the two Republican hopefuls.

The two-term incumbent raised about $623,000 in campaign contributions during the three-month period that ended Dec. 31, according to a report filed last week with the Federal Election Commission. The latest round of donations brought the Whitehouse campaign’s cash on hand to $2.8 million.

The senator’s campaign spent almost $400,000, far more than his rivals, during the quarter. He shelled out about $53,000 to his polling firm, Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, and about $51,000 to his fundraising consultants in Washington.

The filing also showed Whitehouse gave away $21,000 in donations he had received over the years from former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who resigned over sexual harassment allegations. The money was split between four organizations: Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Sojourner House, Sophia Academy, and the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island.

Two Republicans – Flanders, a former R.I. Supreme Court associate justice, and state Rep. Bobby Nardolillo – are both seeking the GOP nomination against Whitehouse, who is seeking a third term in November.

Flanders, who formally entered the race in October, remains the better-funded Republican candidate. The Flanders campaign’s cash on hand totaled about $345,000 as of Dec. 31, after he raised about $164,000 and spent about $94,000 during the quarter, according to his FEC filing.

Nardolillo lagged behind Flanders in the fundraising department. The Coventry lawmaker’s cash on hand totaled $45,000 as of Dec. 31, after he raised about $50,000 and spent about $43,000 during the quarter, according to his FEC filing.

Mark Zaccaria, a spokesman for Nardolillo, noted that the candidate raised more than $100,000 during 2017 from nearly 1,000 individual donors, which he said would give him a “big base” to solicit additional contributions this year.

The Republican nominee will be chosen in the Sept. 12 primary, with the winner facing Whitehouse in the Nov. 6 general election.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook