In this Republican-leaning NC district, a Democrat is the top fundraiser

Democrat Dan McCready
Democrat Dan McCready Observer photo

Democrat Dan McCready continued to outraise 9th Congressional District rivals and had more than $1 million more on hand at the end of March than incumbent Republican Robert Pittenger.

New reports show McCready raised $1.8 million for his campaign, with $1.3 million on hand at the end of the first quarter.

The Pittenger campaign has raised $1.2 million and had $282,000 on hand.

Republican Mark Harris, who faces Pittenger in a May 8 primary, has raised $528,000. He had $90,000 on hand.

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The Republican-leaning district, which runs from southeast Charlotte to Fayetteville, is expected to be one of North Carolina's most competitive. Democrats are targeting it in their bid to retake control of the U.S. House.

McCready faces Christian Cano in the Democratic primary. Cano, the party's 2016 nominee, reported $146 on hand at the end of the quarter.

Political scientist Michael Bitzer of Catawba College said the reports tell a lot about the GOP primary as well as the potential general election match-up.

"Pittenger in the primary has the advantage over Harris because of incumbency," Bitzer said. "Sitting members of Congress … are going to have an easier time raising money, unless they are scandal-plagued."

Republican Mark Harris Robert Lahser rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

And he said he wasn't surprised by McCready's fundraising.

"The energy, the mobilization, the enthusiasm is on the Democratic side," Bitzer said. "And it's obvious McCready has been able to capitalize on that.”

McCready called his fundraising "just the beginning."

“This campaign is being built by folks across our district who are tired of being left behind by politicians in Washington,” he said in a statement. “Together, we’ve already done more than anyone thought was possible, and this is just the beginning.”

McCready has raised $90,000 from political action committees and $311,000 through ActBlue, an online clearinghouse for contributions to Democratic candidates. His PAC contributions include money from those associated with Democratic members of Congress, party groups and groups such as the League of Conservation Voters.

Pittenger raised $589,000 from PACs. That includes so-called leadership PACs affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Whip Steve Scalise. He also got contributions from PACs representing Koch Industries and other business groups.

Pittenger also raised money through the Pittenger Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee with the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Victory Fund reported raising $237,000 this year.

Responding to McCready's fundraising, Pittenger strategist Paul Shumaker said, "This is just another reason why it is time for conservatives to rally around Congressman Pittenger."

"He has a proven conservative history and a winning electoral track record," Shumaker said in a statement. "The amount of money Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies across the country are pouring into this race is significant and we must be ready to defeat her and her hand picked candidate in November.”

Harris spokesman Andy Yates said Pittenger's heavy support from PACs show that his campaign is "being funded by swamp creatures."

"There's a clear contrast between who's funding the two campaigns," Yates said. "The Pittenger campaign continues to receive hundreds of thousand dollars from special interests."

Jim Morrill, 704-358-5059; @jimmorrill