North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Robert Pittinger raised $465,000 toward his re-election over the past year, but his campaign closed 2015 with just $73,000 in the bank, its year-end filing with the Federal Election Commission shows.
Since Pittenger’s family business is facing an FBI investigation, the modest fundraising figures might suggest that the second-term Republican is vulnerable to a challenge from the right in the March 15 primary election.
But Republican rival George Rouco, a lawyer and former CIA officer, reported raising just $5,370 in the last quarter of 2015 and closing the year with $18,558 in cash.
Pittenger is wealthy and has opened his own wallet a number of times before, lending a total of $663,000 to his campaign that’s still on the books as debt.
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$73,000 About how much U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger had in his campaign chest at the end of 2015.
“Pittenger certainly has deep pockets and spent a considerable amount when the seat came open” in 2012, said J. Michael Bitzer, a history and politics professor at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. “He can certainly not just tap into his donor base but he can ostensibly fund himself.”
Pittenger has denied any wrongdoing in the operation of a real estate investment business he launched some 30 years ago. If Rouco were to succeed in making the FBI inquiry a campaign issue, Bitzer said, “it would probably put (Pittenger) more on the defensive” and could prompt him to dig into his pockets again.
Rouco recently won the endorsement of Pittenger’s Republican predecessor, former Rep. Sue Myrick. But with just a month and a half before the primary, Bitzer said, Rouco’s path is “going to be hard.”
The winner of the March GOP primary would face Democrat Christian Cano in the heavily Republican district centered in Charlotte.