Sestak raised $312k in first quarter; Toomey has $5.5m advantage

WASHINGTON – Joe Sestak, the Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), raised about $312,000 in the first three months of 2015, a relatively small amount for a candidate hoping to win what promises to be an expensive statewide race next year.

Sestak’s campaign has declined in recent days to disclose its fund-raising totals, though a public filing obtained by the Inquirer shows the amounts. He had $1.7 million on hand as of the end of March – a month during which he spent most of his time on a largely solitary 422-mile hike across Pennsylvania, where he said he was walking to try to earn voters’ trust.

"We're where we want to be," a Sestak spokeswoman e-mailed.

By contrast, Toomey raised just over $2 million in the first quarter and had $7.2 million on hand as of the end of March. And on Monday a longtime Democrat aimed to help Toomey raise more: David L. Cohen, Ed Rendell's former chief of staff and now a top Comcast executive, hosted a Toomey fund-raiser at the cable company's Philadelphia headquarters. It is at least the second time Cohen has helped Toomey raise money.

Toomey has backed Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, though Cohen's first event for the senator came before that deal was ever proposed. Toomey's campaign manager, Peter Towey, said the senator had received support from several prominent Democrats.

"They’re not looking at one issue, they’re looking at (Toomey's) body of work as a whole," Towey said, arguing that Toomey has often collaborated with Democrats.

Sestak, a former admiral and Delaware County congressman, formally launched his campaign the first week of March, but had been open about his campaign plans long before that.

Sestak is one of two Democrats so far to enter a race that could be crucial to which party controls the Senate after 2016. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has also joined the contest, and other Democrats are considering entering.

National Democrats have been uneasy with Sestak's candidacy in a race the party almost certainly needs to win to take back the Senate.

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