When the most recent federal disclosure reports were filed last Monday, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler had a 3-1 overall fundraising lead over challenger Renee Hoagenson — and an even larger lead in money available for the final weeks of the campaign.
Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, is seeking her fifth term representing the Fourth Congressional District. Hoagenson, a Columbia Democrat, has raised more for the Fourth District race than any challenger except Teresa Hensley, who ran against Hartzler in 2012 as the incumbent sought re-election for the first time.
Hoagenson, who has raised $365,576, has received all but $3,367 from individual donors. The total includes $44,613 donated through Act Blue, an organization that funnels donations raised online to Democratic candidates around the country.
Hartzler, who has raised $1.1 million, has received more than 40 percent of her contributions from political action committees that represent organizations with interests before Congress.
The final fundraising reports before the Nov. 6 election are due Monday.
“At the end of the day, when I am sitting in Congress, I am beholden to no one,” Hoagenson said Monday after a talk at Lenoir Woods, where she received the endorsement of the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans, an organization that represents retired union members. “The legislation that comes before me and comes before Congress should be about the American people, and not about special interest groups and lobbies.”
The money from Act Blue is not evidence of grass-roots Missouri support, said Nathan Adams, campaign consultant for Hartzler.
“She will be beholden to east coast liberals,” Adams said.
Hoagenson raised $123,803 during the quarter, with all but about $11,000 from donors within the state. Most of the Act Blue donations were earmarked contributions from Missouri residents.
Hoagenson began her campaign early in 2017 and survived a close Democratic primary in August to make it to the general election ballot. The money she raised has come in incrementally, she said, and it has been used to build up grass roots support through social media and a few targeted buys in traditional media.
In the Columbia area, radio listeners and television viewers are far more likely to see a message about Hartzler than Hoagenson. Hartzler purchased $30,000 worth of air time on KOMU last week and more than $13,000 in ads on KSSZ, Eagle 93.9 FM. Hoagenson has purchased less than $1,000 worth of radio time and no broadcast television time. She has purchased some ads on cable television.
“We are hoping to resonate in the media we are purchasing,” Hoagenson said. “We are hoping our message is effective in reaching people’s minds and hearts.”
Hartzler’s campaign is on-target for fundraising, Adams said.
“This is the goal we gave ourselves at the beginning of 2017 and we feel good about where we have executed it at this point,” he said.
The alliance endorsement for Hoagenson announced Monday is because Hartzler has “voted against anything to help stabilize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” said David Meinell, president of the group. She has a zero rating with the group, he said.
In her talk, Hoagenson sought to tie Hartzler to unpopular ideas to transform Medicare into a voucher program for purchasing insurance on the open market and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s statements that social programs are the cause of escalating budget deficits.
“Leaders like Vicky Hartzler and her party have indicated recently that they would put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every chance they get,” Hoagenson said.
The charges are false, Adams said. Hartzler has never voted for a voucher program and has not endorsed McConnell’s statements, he said.
“She has never voted for any of those measures,” Adams said. “That is just Renee Hoagenson out there making false claims and representations.”
Adams is incorrect. In 2012, Hartzler voted for a budget proposal that would have converted Medicare to a voucher program beginning in 2023.