LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two Republicans who announced during the summer they want to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Ross in a southern Arkansas district next year said Thursday their fundraising was off to a strong start.
Tom Cotton, a Dardanelle management consultant and Army veteran, said he raised more than $343,000 in the third quarter. Beth Anne Rankin, a former Miss Arkansas from Magnolia who worked for former Gov. Mike Huckabee, said she raised more than $170,000 in the period ending Sept. 30.
Cotton and Rankin released their totals for the third quarter in advance of an Oct. 15 federal deadline.
The two other candidates who have declared their intention to run in the 4th Congressional District, which covers Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and Texarkana, said they hadn't started fundraising in earnest yet.
The other Republican in the race, Waldron businessman and Marine veteran Marcus Richmond, said he raised about $10,000 last quarter. And state Sen. Gene Jeffress, the lone Democrat so far, said he hasn't raised any money at all.
Ross, the only Democrat among Arkansas' four U.S. House members, announced in July he would not seek re-election next year. He's expected to run for governor in 2014; Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is term-limited.
Ross took in $2.4 million during his campaign for re-election last year.
Cotton was the first candidate to declare he would run for the House seat, saying he had decided before Ross' announcement. Cotton's campaign announced Thursday that it only spent $12,000 of what it raised, leaving $331,000 in cash on hand.
Rankin's campaign said more than 400 people donated in the quarter, with donations from each of the 33 counties in the district.
In an interview, Richmond said he trailed Cotton and Rankin in hiring staff and meeting donors. He predicted he would need at least $300,000 to be competitive in a primary campaign.
"As a nonpolitical person who's gotten involved in this, you quickly find out that money ... makes the wheels roll," he said.
Jeffress said he hasn't tried to raise any money yet, even though he's been told a campaign could eventually cost millions of dollars. He said he's paid for travel and other costs out of his own pocket.
"If it's destined to happen, it will," he said in an interview. "I'm seeing a lot of folks, and I think the general public wants a common guy. I don't think they want a millionaire."
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